Posts Tagged: social


16
Sep 10

Diaspora Alternatives: Open-source Social Networks for Your Taking

The Diaspora project made a big splash when three young students pledged to make a distributed social network to free the masses from Facebook’s whimsical privacy transgressions and walled garden. Three months and $200,000 later the Diaspora project’s source code is now public. However, to get it up and running you need a ruby/rails friendly server and MongoDB for the database. This is not your typical LAMP application. Also, if you make any modifications to the code on your server, you must publish changes according to the GNU Affero General Public License.

Although Diaspora is promising the project has just started. If you’re looking for something more mature and built on the LAMP stack here are some alternatives.

Elgg

Language: Php

Elgg is an award-winning open source social networking engine that provides a robust framework on which to build all kinds of social environments, from a campus wide social network for your university, school or college or an internal collaborative platform for your organization through to a brand-building communications tool for your company and its clients.

Source

License: GNU General Public License, version 2.

The Appleseed Project – Open Source Social Networking

Language: Php

Appleseed is the first open source, fully decentralized social networking software.
Protect your privacy
Move around without losing friends
Support open standards

Source

License: GNU General Public License, version 2.

NoseRub

Social networks are great: you can stay in touch with friends all across the world and find new ones based on your interests. But often, social networks serve a single purpose or interest. For instance photos, videos or classmates from school and university.

This is not a problem by itself, but when you want to keep track of all your contacts in all these social networks, this is a lot of work for you to update your contacts list in all the social networks you are in. And you also might need to get a member of a social network, although you’re not interesed in the subject, but only want to track your friends activities.

NoseRub only defines the social network and some basic content types like media, links, micropublishing and text. You can now add all your contacts to a NoseRub network and aggregate several social networks into just one.

And you always have full control of your data, as you can install NoseRub on your own server and have it connect to other servers out there.

Source

License: MIT


15
Sep 10

Twitter Goes Facebook

Twitter’s new design is about to be rolled out as covered elsewhere. It involves quite a major redesign that includes multi-column layouts and inline media. Quite simply it looks a lot like Facebook now. Since Facebook initially made their interface more Twitter-like this brings it full circle. Media is still hosted on external sites so this means that external sites will get a lot less click throughs for the same bandwidth costs. Although Twitter did work closely with these partners it remains to be seen how this will affect their traffic and revenue. Sites without any added value will probably be eventually rolled into the mothership or collapse.

The new design iteration is long overdue and something that will benefit the typical user. One of the only features missing from desktop apps and other applications is the ability to switch between multiple accounts.

Aside from ironing out kinks and subtle adjustments, Twitter clears the way for enhancing their advertising platform. The increased visual noise (or activity depending on how you see it) will give them more leeway to introduce more advertising into the mix, not to mention a healthy dose of page views and ability to retain more users on site.

Behold: The New Twitter.com! (Screenshots)

Twitter Hatches The New Twitter.com — A New Two-Pane Experience (Live)

The Best Subtle Things About New Twitter

Here Comes the New Twitter.com [PIC]


14
Sep 10

MTV Gets Social Media

One thing that stands out about this years MTV Video Music Awards is how much MTV gets social media. While music will always be a major part of teenage social life, the people running the industry are not necessarily savvy to social media and even antagonistic to new technology (giving them major headaches like piracy). In recent years, MTV has been quietly revamping their mtv.com property by adding more content, making it more usable and integrating a variety of social features. Before the famous user experience designer Dan Cederholm orchestrated the MTV.com reboot in 2007, MTV was a nightmare of a site almost coded entirely in Adobe Flash and lacking any useful content. News stories consisted of headlines and a teaser paragraph. There wasn’t much audio much less video aside from some choppy Real Media streams that only showed short clips.

Fast forward to today and they are the top online destination for music videos and leading a variety of initiatives that fully embrace social media. Reality TV shows like Jersey Shore are giving MTV ratings they haven’t seen in years. The cast of Jersey Shore are becoming a social phenomenon unto themselves, leveraging social media like Twitter and Facebook to extend their reach and keeping the personal touch. It is no wonder that MTV can easily push big events like the Video Music Awards and all the drama around it to the forefront of Twitter trends.

Kanye West at MTV VMA

Trial by Social Media

Last year’s VMA moment was definitely when Kanye West stormed Taylor Swift’s award speech to rant that Beyonce Knowles had the best video of all time. It was an embarrassing moment for Kanye that could have ended his career. He was widely criticized across blogs and social media to the point of warranting the famous “jackass” comment from President Obama (that was supposed to be off-the-record). After the incident Kanye issued some statements and largely stayed out of the spotlight while the paparazzi chased him around.

At the beginning of this month Kanye began addressing events from last year’s VMA directly by starting with an apology and making many impassioned pleas.

I’ve hurt, I’ve bled, I’ve learned. I only want to do good. I am passionate I am human I am real. I wish I could meet every hater

Twitter / Kanye West: I’ve hurt, I’ve bled, I’ve …

At this year’s VMA Taylor Swift performed a song titled “Innocent” that seems to address the Kanye incident. While most people lauded her performance there was also a considerable backlash on Twitter telling her to “grow up”, “get over it”, or criticizing the quality of her performance. Lyrics such as “32 is still growing up now … you’re still an innocent.” were seen as condescending by some.

Kanye West deliverd a solid performance of “Runaway” with lyrics like “let’s have a toast to the douchebags” that was both apologetic, honest but still cryptic. Although there’s nothing he can do change the past and some will hate him forever, he has definitely navigated past a situation that would have killed the career of anyone else not as talented or deft with social media.

Celebrities continue to dominate Twitter (Justin Bieber accounts for 3%). Social media is powerful and like anything so powerful it can be a double-edged sword. It’s tricky to navigate and any upcoming artist needs to savvy with it.


13
Sep 10

Social Media & Social Funding

Social funding is probably one of the most interesting developments to come out this year. Fund-raising on the internet is nothing new and everything from raising money for medical treatment, restoring stolen property, buying a new computer or whatever. Pledge and donation buttons abound on the internet. However, as anybody displaying those buttons will tell you it is hard to raise money alone. One thing Kickstarter and similar startups have changed is the notion of social funding. Many have noted how little it takes to create an internet startup with the commoditization of servers and freely available open source tools, all you need are imagination and drive to really bring something to reality. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need money.

Social funding allows creative, ambitious individuals to quickly gain initial capital to make their visions reality. A tour of popular projects on Kickstarter represents a wide variety of projects from music, film, design, to software. Backers or sponsors agree to pledge a fixed amount as set by the project originator. If funding reaches the goal amount by deadline, backers get charged. Otherwise the project fades out. Successful projects must then provide the output promised and deliver goods to backers. Most project goals are in the range of several thousand dollars with pledges starting at $10.

The beauty of this approach is that supporters also form your core audience helping to spread the word through social media such as Twitter or Facebook. It’s hard to dismiss a friend raving about a project that they just donated $10 as spam, because they are putting money where their heart is.

Diaspora, the project to create an open-source, distributed, and self-hosted version of a social network, raised over $200,000. The amount of money came with no strings attached and would put lots of angel rounds to shame. Although the initiative came at the right moment, just as Facebook tried changing user privacy to make things more “open”.

Getting a project fully funded means that the project must have a clear purpose. Since funding is effectively a donation, with a token material reward, it is no surprise that successful projects involve noble motives (change the world for the better) or have aesthetic resonance (eclectic art that strikes the right chord). Ensuring your project gets funded involves quite a bit of strategy that involves smart marketing in addition to presentation quality, although timely projects might get a chance push from word of mouth. However, the biggest appeal is perhaps the lack of strings attached and the low risk for both project organizers and supporters.

Whether your field is IT, music, film or performing art, it is now possible to make your vision a reality with the right amount of preparation using tools readily available to you. Being savvy with social media is no longer about being internet popular but a way to find an audience and now there are a growing number of ways for people to tap into that pool for micro-funding.

10 Crowd-funding Tips from Kickstarter Filmmakers | Rooftop Films Blog

Kickstartup — Successful fundraising with Kickstarter & the (re)making of Art Space Tokyo — Craig Mod


11
Sep 10

The New Job Market

Recently a Stanford student created YouTube Instant. Not only was feedback for it instant and viral he got a job offer from the co-founder of YouTube.

The IT industry is known to set trends and tends to be ahead of the curb in certain areas. One of these is definitely the job market and working style in general. Lots of IT jobs are suited for flexible hours and telecommuting. What’s more the people understand the value of empowering smart individuals and not adhere to meaningless metrics.

To be young and talented in this age is to be given the chance to jump ahead to create your brand or launch a world-changing product before you even become an “adult”.

Stanford student creates YouTube Instant, gets job offer from YouTube CEO | VentureBeat


8
Sep 10

The Big Rewrite, Digg’s Woes Continue

Digg’s woes continue with their new architecture. The rewrite is a mythical dragon in the software world that lives in a cave and occasionally wipes out entire cities. The idea for a web application is that you create all the software from scratch, leaving the data in tact, then on the big day you do a sleight of hand and “voila!” your site is running on a brand new platform. You avoid all the mistakes you made along the way in architecture design and rid yourself of nasty legacy code written by that snarky engineer you fired for incompetence years ago. Now your set for years of growth on a platform that scales with ease and grace. Everything is just faster. Engineers are happy. That’s the theory but it rarely happens in practice.

In reality, engineers are working overtime for months on end with no weekends slowly getting disillusioned by the sheer amount of work involved. The technical leads start seeing other unforeseen issues with the new architecture that lead to potential problems. Data needs to be preserved and migrated seamlessly. As the rewrite drags on code gets sloppier and what’s more there’s no feedback from the real world so people are coding against a subset of test data and not getting pounded by real traffic. When the rewrite does go live, people rejoice, and then the “wait” begins (negative feedback or bugs, lots of bugs). When the system starts coming down in flames everyone’s overworked and drained, not to mention a part of them let go when the switch was flipped, so it takes a lot of mental effort to get back into the flow. Stress levels are even higher than during the rewrite. People start panicking and yelling. Everyone’s unhappy and full of regret.

Of course, this is when rewrites go terribly wrong. Rewrites will always involve some kind of negative adjustment. There are cases where products vanish from the face of the earth after a rewrite because the product becomes something totally different or the competition keeps chugging along while you’re fixing problems. It can be done in style like Foursquare did. Reddit also rewrote their system (not counting the original version done in Lisp) from one framework to another. It can be painful but rewarding in the long-term like Apple’s rewrite of the OS which gives us OS X and provides the underpinnings of their current success.

Digg’s current rewrite involves both architecture and function which is rarely a good thing. On the surface it makes a lot of sense, if we’re going to write it from scratch why not improve the algorithms and functionality in one go. However, in practice, it’s hard to fix things that are broken because your fixing something totally different.

One thing about Digg’s current predicament is the circumstances the VP of Engineering was either fired or quit in the middle of this crisis. If he was fired, it begs the question why because he’s the one who made the decision and should be the one to fix it or guide the team in the right direction. If not, he shouldn’t be leading the team to start with. Of course, his past experience aside from being “VP of Engineering” doesn’t seem to indicate anything relevant to running a highly trafficked web application. If he did walk out on his own, that’s also not good because you’re basically leaving a mess behind you. Either way it’s career suicide and I wonder what would lead to this kind of drama.

On the plus side, Digg is getting lots of attention of late from all the drama surrounding the rewrite. The dust will eventually settle as the issues get sorted out and hopefully they’ll be able to incorporate feedback to make the site better.

As Digg Struggles, VP Of Engineering Is Shown The Door


6
Sep 10

Craigslist Censors its Own Adult Listings

Amidst legal threats from authorities about the concern of spreading prostitution online, Craigslist voluntarily shut down its adults section. Sex and the internet are inseparable and have been for as long as the commercial internet has been available. The problem with Craigslist censorship is that it doesn’t accomplish anything since consumers run to alternatives. It’s akin to the drug problem, you can’t sell without customers. Cutting off suppliers and distributors makes things a bit more inconvenient.

Japan has what Steve Jobs would say are onerous terms regarding the running of personal sites. Companies running personal sites need to register with the police and fulfill various conditions (save all logs for 1 year, ensure no minors can use the site, quickly respond to any police requests for taking down or providing information, etc.). So what happens? Teens setup online profiles to hook up and prostitutes solicit on gaming sites or they do their dirty business on social networks. Crimes become that much harder to police and activities even harder to monitor.

Stigmatizing adult content or services will not make it go away. If adult classifieds are here to stay in one form or another, I’d rather have them on Craigslist rather than on an anonymous site run on offshore servers that might be harvesting your data to sell to others, infect your computer with malware, phish your credit card info, blackmail you or all of the above.

I think it’s time we redefine the problem we’re trying to solve rather than taking stabs in the dark, shutting down anything and everything tainted with the word “adult”.

Newsvine – 1 ‘censored’ bar won’t stop online prostitution


5
Sep 10

Twitter Ecosystem, Preserve or Plunder?

Twitter just posted a triumphant blog entry about the success of owning “official” applications on all mobile fronts. One interesting trivia from the graph is that Twitter’s iPhone client accounts for 8% of unique users. As a result mobile users “jumped 62 percent”.

This strategy has been quite successful. Total mobile users has jumped 62 percent since mid-April, and, remarkably, 16 percent of all new users to Twitter start on mobile now, as opposed to the five percent before we launched our first Twitter-branded mobile client. As we had hoped in April, these clients are bringing more people into Twitter, and, even better, they are attracting and retaining active users. Indeed, 46 percent of active users make mobile a regular part of their Twitter experience.

Twitter Blog: The Evolving Ecosystem


Twitter’s growth and evolution is really an interesting story. They take something really simple, sharing 140 characters of text with an asymmetric friend graph (you can friend but not be friended), open api for reading and writing, then let the community do the rest. Up until now, all the innovations outside of the scaling woes for the backend were all community-driven. The use of “@” for replies and “#” for topics was started by users, search was an external service that got bought out, Tweetie was acquired to become Twitter for iPhone, the twitter button was done by tweetmeme before they provided an official version, and url shortening (to conform to 140 characters) was outsourced to tinyurl then bit.ly though they’re rolling out their own. About the only thing they haven’t taken over yet is the sharing of pictures. I would not be surprised if they rolled something out before the end of the year.
The pro for Twitter is greater control over their brand image not to mention access to better data and ability to reach users. Their moves are already paying off in terms of accelerating their growth further. However, when you look at the innovation that came out of third-party solutions it becomes apparent that Twitter needs to start innovating in-house to keep their competitive edge rather than poaching their eco system for exciting ideas. The reason why Twitter’s eco system thrived so much is because they had one of the hottest services to emerge in years yet they left so much money on the table for features that users were hungry for.
One question for readers, are there any other areas Twitter can grow or the eco system can provide? It seems like the eco system is looking pretty solid right now.

Tweetmeme’s Button Impressions Collapsed 20% After Twitter’s Button Launched


4
Sep 10

Apple’s Ping Goes Bang with 1 Million Users in 2 Days

Apple’s Ping just got 1 million users in 2 days. Granted they already have your email and credit card number, it’s still a nice launch that even the most promising web startups can replicate. Although initially spurned by Facebook, the companies are still in discussion. What other social components could Apple be possibly developing next? Location maybe? Game Center will perhaps have a broader and direct impact on connecting users through competition and also require a significant investment in infrastructure. However, the success or failure of Ping will be something others at the intersection of web and music will be paying close attention to. As a sign of life, Ping is already getting spammers.

Apple’s Ping gains a million users in first two days — Engadget


3
Sep 10

Digg and Reddit, A Retrospective

The rivalry between Digg and Reddit is something of a staple in the social news scene. Now with the latest revolt over Digg’s new design (version 4) that gives media a more powerful presence accompanied by a total rewrite, people are what this means for the future of Digg and attention is shifting towards Reddit. Perhaps even more now that Reddit now has 300+ million pageviews compared to Digg’s 200+ million.

Even before the latest revolt, the scene around Digg changed quite dramatically. At the beginning of 2009 Digg downsized staff amidst declining revenue. The long-time CEO Jay Adelson stepped down not to mention . The rewrite/redesign is preceded by an exodus of former engineers. In addition to all this Digg now has a new CEO that takes over from Kevin Rose.

Digg has long held the dominant position in social news. It’s hard to estimate the impact Digg has had on the web without reflecting on how instrumental Digg was in launching major media staples such as TechCrunch or Mashable among many other blogs and websites. Unknown sites were suddenly thrust into the spotlight would see their servers go down in flames. The next day they would write about the experience of going down from Digg traffic and make another appearance on the front page.

The power and simplicity of Digg inspired many competitors. In fact, so many that have since faded from memory. Perhaps one of the more memorable episodes was when AOL re-appropriated their popular but under-utilised netscape domain (now propeller), put Jason Calacanis in charge (from their Weblogs acquisition), and built a social news clone and hired away prominent Digg users for $1000 a month in compensation. This was launched at about the time Digg removed user rankings from the site when there was an exodus of power users.

On the other hand, Reddit has more or less quietly polished their own product since its launch in 2005 as a Y Combinator startup and later acquired by Conde Nast. The founders of Reddit with the exception of Chris Slowe have also moved on. While Reddit content is user-voted like Digg, they take a more hands off approach to the community whereas Digg is known to moderate or squash certain users that fall afoul of their policies or values. Reddit’s algorithm is based on user karma (a trust metric) that comes from submitted content and comments. Another feature of Reddit is for users to create their own “sub-reddits”. Reddit code is also open source. They operate on a small team with a small budget.

These days people are more likely to discover topics relevant to them through twitter of facebook rather than sift through the flood of generally popular things on social news sites. If you want a cross section of what’s popular right now TweetMeme probably gives you the most balanced bird’s eye view. The hacker crowd most likely check up on Hacker News created by Paul Graham for both links and quality discussion. For an overview of the latest tech news, TechMeme is another go to source. For example, lets take a look at the front page of Digg and Reddit to see what’s trending.

Digg:

  1. 25 Awesome Animal Attack Videos
  2. Ten TV Shows You Never Knew Existed | Gunaxin Media
  3. NASA planning mission to visit the sun
  4. NASA Outdoes All Homemade Flamethrower Videos [Video]
  5. Ford readying Fiesta-based crossover, captured for the first time!
  6. The 14 Most Brutal College Hazing Rituals
  7. Internet Sensation Antoine Dodson and Auto-Tune the News Sell ‘Bed Intruder’ on iTunes
  8. New Research Challenges Marijuana Gateway Theory
  9. tokeofthetown.com— The widespread belief that marijuana users will eventually and inevitably move on to harder drugs has yet more evidence against it with the release…
  10. Video Artist Transforms YouTube’s TOS Into a Paranoid Nightmare

Reddit:

  1. I am William J Lashua’s Grandson. Please read this. (self.reddit.com)
  2. Peeping Tom, caught on camera (youtube.com)
  3. A woman named Hilda Yao has just donated over $1 million to fund the wish-lists of EVERY teacher in California. Note to Glenn Beck: this is what a sincere effort to “restore honor” looks like. (sfgate.com)
  4. My dog Hickory playing in puddles in our backyard…yes, I am sitting in a puddle holding the camera. [pic] (imgur.com)
  5. Your move, captcha… (imgur.com)
  6. With reddit’s help, the Internet just broke down a border! On an unrelated note, two reddit guys were guests on a podcast last night. (blog.reddit.com)
  7. Am I the only guy that doesn’t like one night stands? (self.AskReddit)
  8. Minecraft sells its 100.000th copy!!! (Thats a Million euros now – for a game still in Alpha! – by ONE guy) (minecraft.net)
  9. Wisconsin, the number one cheese-producing state in the United States, named this bacterium in 2010 as the official state microbe, the first and only such designation by a state legislature in the nation. (nytimes.com)
  10. Israel is willing to make a sweeping concession – dividing control of Jerusalem – as part of a historic final peace pact with Palestinians and drop its demand that Jerusalem would “remain the undivided capital of Israel” (nypost.com)

As you can see, the sites have moved away from their tech focus long ago. However, one thing remains is that with social media sites like Digg or Reddit, you live by your users and die by your users. In any popular website that relies on user-generated content, the top people making the most important contributions that drive traffic to the site are only a small handful of the thousands or even millions of registered users.

One thing that hasn’t changed with Digg over the years is the cult of personality around Kevin Rose and the largely anonymous but rowdy masses that dwell in the comments section. At one point it was driven by power users that have since moved on or became demoralized. On the other hand, Reddit has been consistent in maintaining a hands-off approach to direct moderation (by innovating on their karma algorithm) while keeping a fanatic commitment to their community (even if it means revolting against their corporate parent). It’s a classic example of the tortoise versus the hare.