Accidentally in Code

Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

There are two things that are almost guaranteed to bring out the giant ***** in me. One is people who accost me in the street trying to convert me to one religion or another (it’s amazing none of them have punched me for suggesting they’re mentally ill). The other thing is sales calls.

I think this allows me to be nice to almost everyone else, even when they’re being annoying.

Anyway, this morning I got a call from the Ottawa Sun, asking if I wanted a trial of the newspaper for as little as $0.20 a day. I said,

My boyfriend and I are 24 and 28. I don’t think either of us has ever bought a newspaper, apart from The Economist. We get all of our news online. So I don’t think we’re really your target market

This guy he took it really well, laughed and complimented me, and told me his kids were the same way.

I was talking to Treena the other day about her start-up, Betidings. She observed that the people who had really “got it” were my generation.

Now, it seems obvious. People used to hear about events in the paper (perhaps some people still do). However, I don’t know anyone who reads a paper – I’m the exception, and I only read the Economist! We get our news from various sources online, and hear about events from our friends or via Facebook or Twitter. But you can’t export Facebook events to your calendar and Facebook doesn’t really display them that helpfully either. The thing about Twitter is that in order to hear about events someone is going to you have to be tuning in to everything they’re saying, and even then you may only hear about it on the day (when it’s too late to get tickets). Betidings means you can just tune into their calendar. That’s kinda awesome.

I think newspapers will die, but I also think that presents an opportunity to those willing to look for them. Betidings is one such example. Do you have another?

Check out what events I’m going to through my Betidings calendar.

I know, it’s been a long time coming. But finally – my new visualization which I’ve created using IBM’s Many Eyes (which is awesome, although very blue).

Since Twitter released it’s new “Lists” feature, there’s been talk about how Lists are a good way to measure influence – someone who is on more lists is likely to be more influential. Likewise, someone with lots of followers who’s not on any lists (or maybe one called “spammers”) is less influential.

However, what about measuring influence within lists? For instance, if you’re using lists to collect a group of people, such as the Girl Geek Dinners list, it might be nice to visualize something that indicates how influential people are within that network.

So, what I’m doing is displaying the scatter-graph of followers vs following, with the size of the bubble being proportional to the number of times the user has been mentioned by another user in the list.

See the dynamic one for my friends here. Static one below:

9117565e-d240-11de-be19-000255111976 Blog_this_caption

Here’s the one for GGDOttawa (dynamic version here):
B2507ef0-d249-11de-aa1c-000255111976 Blog_this_caption

More coming soon! Taking requests and suggestions!

This week my supervisor, two of my office mates (Amir and Payam) and I have been working hard putting together a presentation we’ve recorded for a conference in Algeria on Sunday.

I laid out the slides in Keynote, using my color scheme (luckily the others were OK with the pink). We’ve been impressed with how easy it has been to record in Keynote, although I think due to the number of takes there are some glitches where the audio doesn’t quite match with the slides.

It’s taken longer than expected – I think we all got quite perfectionist, and when checking it the playback always started from the beginning – meaning with each additional person it took longer to check everything was working OK! Also – I hate listening to myself present. I say “So…” at the start of every slide!

The slides are available on slideshare (I’ve embedded it below). You may notice that my section is very similar to the presentation I prepared the other week, although I’ve had to add some text to the slides. You can also download the QuickTime movie here (it’s Benyoucef.mov and note – the first section is in French) my section starts at around 32:30.

As ever – let me know what you think!

This is kinda awesome – check out the demos here.

Screenshot for “Social Networking” from¬†Amazon:

 

"social networking" on Amazon - using TouchGraph

"social networking" on Amazon - created by TouchGraph

My Facebook network (zoomed out):

 

My Facebook Network (zoomed out) created by TouchGraph

My Facebook Network (zoomed out) - created by TouchGraph

Zoomed in:

 

Facebook Network (zoomed in) - created by TouchGraph

Facebook Network (zoomed in) - created by TouchGraph

And finally, this adds a whole new dimension to Vanity Searching!

 

Vanity Search - created by TouchGraph

Vanity Search - created by TouchGraph

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to start this by saying that if you’re thinking about using Twitter to communicate with your friends, that’s a job that can be done fine by Facebook. Especially if you have a smart phone.

Of course your friends who are using Twitter are probably using it differently from Facebook (danah boyd has some commentary on that here). I definitely use these services differently, I tend to post more frequently on Twitter, share way more stuff, and Facebook I use to communicate with people who aren’t on Twitter, or for statuses that are too personal for public consumption.

Anyway, the other day one of my friends said that he was quitting Twitter because it was pointless and Facebook did everything Twitter could do (and more). And so I directed him to my Why Twitter isn’t a Pointless Waste of Time post and said – how do you replicate information gathering on Facebook. And he said – groups.

I disagree, because I think Twitter gives you so much control over your stream, and you can’t have that in a Facebook group. And my friend said, no you can be the administrator and then you can have that much control.

And I guess he is right. I could be the despotic dictator who says who can be in my group and subject them to rules depending on who they are. So friends can post anything, but people who I’m following for inspiration can’t say anything depressing (or religious) or they’re gone. Techies can’t wax lyrical about Windows 7 otherwise I’ll get bored and kick them out. And there’ll be an eclectic mix of people – techies, atheists, newspapers, academics, friends and the people who relay what’s hot right now. But they’ll have to coexist peacefully and I don’t expect to see much cross-subject discussion – this isn’t an exercise to encourage them interacting (unless they already are), nor can they complain if I get bored and get rid of someone else. And they have to be posting regularly, I want to see perhaps 200 posts a day.

But somehow I don’t think people would participate under these conditions, and even if they did that it would work as well as Twitter does. Do you?

I’ve created my slides for my presentation (abstract) following a Presentation Zen (Amazon) approach. So there are basically no words on any of my slides. I’m going to lay them out one by one, with narration. Let me know what you think!

Title Slide

Title Slide

I’ve gone for a blank template. I wonder if this is too plain and could use some background color? Let me know what you think. The color of the lettering matches the color scheme for my soon-to-be-launched website.

This is where I introduce myself and what I’m talking about. I don’t really like this bit of presenting, so I’ll keep it brief.

The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web

Image from iStockPhoto

I’m going to start off by talking about the “World Wide Web” and trying to provoke a bit of thought about it. It’s relatively recent, and yet it’s game changing. How many of us could live without it? I certainly couldn’t. Whilst the internet has been around since the 1960’s, the web as we know it (with hyper-linked web pages) has only been around since 1989. But within 20 years we’ve got to the point where the web is basically infrastructure…

Electricity Infrastructure

Electricity Infrastructure

Image from Flikr User BK59

… like electricity. For more on how I think the internet is just infrastructure like electricity, running water, or roads, see this post.

Clay Shirky - Why I Ignore 5 Year Plans

Clay Shirky - Why I Ignore 5 Year Plans

Clay Shirky – giving us some needed perspective. I think when we reflect on what’s changed, and how recent it is, we realize that this is really just the start of it. I remember life-before-Facebook but I can’t imagine living without it, even though I’m not always sure that the level connectivity it gives us is a good thing (for more on my mixed feelings about Facebook, read this post).

Near-Universal Authorship

Near-Universal Authorship

A couple of hundred years ago, all the information your average person had came from the Bible, if they could even read. Now, not only are rates of literacy very high but the internet gives everyone the ability to be a publisher of content too. There’s a fascinating article on this here.

How Web 2.0 is Changing the Way we Comminicate

How Web 2.0 is Changing the Way we Comminicate

I put this graphic up in this post. What I want to show here is that there’s a shift to newer technologies and that it’s a process. This diagram captures what I’m thinking and finding now, but no doubt in a year it will be different. Also important, is how many arrows are going into Twitter – it’s simplicity and flexibility mean that it’s a great way to do a whole variety of things. There’s definitely stuff that’s missing from the diagram – the thing is to balance what’s important with trying to include everything and making it impossible to follow.

Serendipitous Connections

Serendipitous Connections

Image from iStockPhoto

Something that isn’t represented in the previous diagram though, is the possibility of serendipitous connections. By lowering the bar to communication, and through ambient awareness we can have more “weak-tie” relationships. Think about how many people you’ve lost touch with but found (or had find you) on Facebook, or the number of people you “follow” on Twitter but have never met.

Hang on - Isn't Twitter Completely Pointless?

Hang on - Isn't Twitter Completely Pointless?

Image from http://geekandpoke.typepad.com/geekandpoke/2009/04/twitter-business-plan.html

I don’t think Twitter is a Pointless Waste of Time, but a lot of people do. If you do think Twitter’s pointless, why do you? Have you tried it? Over the next couple of slides I’m going to talk a bit about the impact that Twitter has had on events and the reasons why I think it’s useful.

Iranian Election, 2009

Iranian Election, 2009

Images from http://spinster.blogs.com/rak/2009/06/green.html, http://whatothersmissed.blogspot.com/2009/06/round-up.html, http://www.flickr.com/photos/ari/3644667355/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/ari/3625401150/

In the aftermath of the Iranian election, the US government intervened to change Twitter’s maintenance schedule so that it wouldn’t be down during the day in Iran. Twitter allowed Iranians to communicate with the outside world and express their distress at the rigged election. The governent’s reaction to this did not help their case.

I was working in Shanghai during the summer, and when the riots started they shut down Facebook and Twitter (at the time, I wrote this post). When I was there in 2007, you couldn’t access Wikipedia – but this time I could. This makes me think that the government is no longer afraid of information – it’s afraid of the conversation.

What's the Connection Between the British Parliament and an Irish Pop Star?

What's the Connection Between the British Parliament and an Irish Pop Star?

Images from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:British_Houses_of_Parliament.jpg, http://www.flickr.com/photos/24960504@N06/3581090321

As a Brit, I tend to follow the news over there and the other week two things happened. The first one that a law firm got an injunction to prevent a newspaper reporting from a question to be asked in parliament regarding some toxic waste and a firm called Trafigura. The newspaper (the Guardian – read their story here) could only report that they couldn’t report anything about the MP asking the question or the question itself. However some smart people soon worked out what the question was and soon #trafigura was trending – causing the very awareness that they had sought to prevent.

The seond thing that happened was that this pop star died, of a heart condition. However he was gay, and with his husband at the time so it was enough to get some vile columnist in the Daily Mail to write a homophobic diatribe about him. Her name was soon trending as people expressed outrage (interestingly the Wikipedia article on Jan Moir consists of little more than the story of this).

I think what these two events show, is that Twitter provides a forum for people to express their frustration with all kinds of things – whether it’s concern over restrictions of reporting on parliament or just celebrity gossip. It also captures what people are getting angry, or excited about. Trending topics can answer what’s hot right now – Apple trends whenever it has an announcement, Windows 7 and even Ubuntu 9 were trending on their release.

Trend Graph for #trafigura and "Jan Moir"

Trend Graph for #trafigura and "Jan Moir"

Trendistic is a service that allows us to graph how often words are occurring in Tweets. We can see that #trafigura rapidly became popular and disappeared again quickly once the injunction had been lifted. “Jan Moir” has a wider curve, and there was another flurry of mentions when she released an apology a week later.

Information Gathering

Information Gathering

Image from iStockPhoto

Information gathering is the best use I get out of Twitter, and I feel it’s something that it would be hard to replicate anywhere else with as little effort. Follow leaders in your field, or just people who work in a similar area to you who tweet interesting stuff they found, or people who inspire you. I get so much information this way, and it doesn’t take very long to go through it. I’m literally crowd-sourcing my news! And if someone I’m following tweets too much or I lose interest I can un-follow them. Lists are going to make this even easier.

Ambient Awareness / Ambient Intimacy

Ambient Awareness / Ambient Intimacy

Image from iStockPhoto

Ambient Awareness is like the Facebook newsfeed. It’s passively letting information about your friends lives come to you. But on Twitter, people often update more often – so if it’s someone you’re really fond of it can be better than Facebook for staying in touch with their lives. Two of my good friends live in London and I love the little bits of their lives that I see on Twitter and we definitely use ambient awareness to stay in touch. I was having a lousy day last week and I tweeted about it and one of my friends sent me a message just saying “*hug*”. When another friends released his work project (Google Sync) and it hit the trending topics, it was really nice to share his excitement about it in real time.

Great article in the NY Times on Ambient Intimacy.

Customer Relationship Management

Customer Relationship Management

Image from iStockPhoto

Twitter is amazing for overhearing what your customers are saying about your business. There was actually a paper published earlier this year analyzing brand sentiment on Twitter. Businesses (and non-profits, like @kiva) that get it are on Twitter seeing what’s being said about them and taking part in the conversation.

I wrote more about customer relationship management in this post.

Conversations on Twitter

Conversations on Twitter

Image from iStockPhoto

I think conversations are a great way of measuring engagement on Twitter, and this is what I’m working on at the moment. If your a brand, how engaged are you with your community? If you’re an individual, how engaged are you with the people you’re following? Are you passively absorbing content or are you sharing, adding value? If you’re a spammer, no-one’s talking to you!

Who's Following You?

Who's Following You?

Image from iStockPhoto

It’s possible to have a large number of followers by either paying for them, or by following people in the hopes they’ll follow you back (and unfollowing those that don’t) until eventually you have several thousand people “following” you.

Spammers

Spammers

Image from http://geekandpoke.typepad.com/geekandpoke/2009/02/spam-followers.html

But are they listening?¬† Or are they just spammers? If they were listening you’d expect at least some of them to be talking to you.

Is Anyone There?

Is Anyone There?

So I decided that follower/following counts were basically meaningless, and wrote a program that will graph your conversation network (more on that in this post).

And it’s fascinating, because someone’s graph really says a lot about the kind of user they are. Are they a power-user? A regular user? A spammer? A light user?

My Conversation Network

My Conversation Network

Spammer Conversation Network

Spammer Conversation Network

Power User Conversation Network

Power User Conversation Network

Moderate User Conversation Network

Moderate User Conversation Network

Light User Conversation Network

Light User Conversation Network

It’s nice how you can see the different networks that he’s a part of here. I hope to use a clique finding approach to draw out this kind of information for bigger and busier networks.

Is This Pretentious?

Is This Pretentious?

Email

Posted on: October 29, 2009

Since I started using Remember the Milk my task list is now separate from my email – so email that I mark as “ToDo” items don’t show up in it unless I put them there. I’ve opted not to, and instead made a recurring task every other day to “clear email”.

As a result of this, I’ve discovered two things: 1. not having it on my list means I do other things instead, which is good – clearing my email in one go should be more efficient. 2. I dread doing this task.

Perhaps the thing is, that the people I want to talk to I am talking to – on Twitter, or Facebook, or Wave. So the emails I get are mostly tedious things that I need to attend to for someone else’s benefit. Except that one, and er, that one. And yours if you’re waiting a response from me.

I wonder if with real-time or near real-time communication I’m just getting to the point when something so asynchronous seems weird. I mean, if someone doesn’t respond to a Twitter message within 2 days, that’s it right? You don’t expect a response.

What’s bothering me? Too many services? To much mail, period?

I remember when getting a letter in the post from a friend was exciting. But now only getting a package is exciting, because letters consist of bills and things trying to get you to buy insurance or whatever. I wonder if I’m starting to see e-mail in a similar way. E-mails mostly consist of people asking me to do stuff, and spam.

Hmm.

How Web 2.0 is Changing the Way we Communicate

 

How Web 2.0 is Changing the Way we Communicate

This is what I’ve been finding in my research – what do you think? Anything missing?

@NonaCobbzea's Twitter Conversation Network

@NonaCobbzea's Twitter Conversation Network

This one is interesting – the network is fairly connected, if it wasn’t for the big ball of purple in the middle (@NonaCobbzea) it would look pretty normal. She’s sending unwanted @ messages with the same link in each one to a weird “blog” that’s a overly descriptive of certain aspects of her life I’d rather not know about. But is it working? Most likely it’s driving traffic, but no-one’s talking to her and hopefully Twitter will kick her off soon.

There’s a bit of an Ottawa focus, so I wonder if the connectedness in the graphs is a result of that.

I wonder how this will change with the new report as spam feature.

@spam on Twitter - October 22nd

@spam on Twitter - October 22nd


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