Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rage against the machine

or... why I hate Social Networking Web 2.0 and all the damn hype...

1) it's not social - really, where are the synchronous multi-user "chat rooms?" are we stuck using a half-broken half-duplexy manually-refreshed one-dimensional thing like Twitter and claiming it to be a 2.0 version of a 40 year old 1.0 chat room?

2) networking within a silo isn't really networking, and why does it all have to be done so publicly? my social network isnt everyone's business, and there's no way for me to segregate it.

3) the world wide web was created for documents, not people. stop shoehorning one purpose into another and claiming that metadata about people are actually the people themselves. they're not.

4) since everything is in perpetual beta (and doesn't work well even for a beta), it's hardly 1.5, let alone 2.0. when your service is ready for primetime baby, call me. otherwise, pay a code checker.

5) I belong to every social networking site I can find, and met more people in a one hour chat room session than all of those networking sites combined. a chat room format that is 40 years old.

Don't Trust the Servers - Columns by PC Magazine

Don't Trust the Servers - Columns by PC Magazine!

Ta da! Triumph of the subjective, yet again. The key here is that these things, like data and processing, be shared, backedup and duplicated, fluidly. There's nothing wrong with using *both* server based backups and dvd burning to backup, especially since, as an enduser, i dont have any control over whether or not google decides to share my data with china, a US spy agency, or a lawyer. Its not either/or, its both.

When friendster/facebook/myspace/etc goes bankrupt, what happens to my buddy list? at least with all of my IM and email programs to date, I have a local copy of everyone I've ever encountered (which tops 100,000 people over the last twenty years).

Lets say, that in Mu, an impromptu conference of like minded folks want to talk about the Ohio State Buckeye game currently happening. Now, Im not at home, nor at the game - Im at my local neighborhood bar watching it on their TVs, but I want to talk with everyone whos using Mu. Well, if I used my txting feature on my phone, Id be flooded with txts, some truncated (people in a chat room dont naturally limit themselves to 140 characters), and Id use up my allotment of text messages for the month before the first quarter is over.

What if a server based webservice translated all of those typed words into voices for me, and I just called their phone number, like one calls a phone conferencing center. Here, its extremely appropriate for a webservice. But if I am at home, my own computer can do it for me (I still want the audio, because I'm watching the game, not the room/monitor. I want to *hear* my friends with whom I watching the game.)

Twitter pruning - blech

More than one person on Twitter has talked about pruning people from follow/follower lists in the last couple days. It reminds me of people who cross people off Christmas card lists because they didn't get one from them this year - yes, it may be the formal custom to do so, but its remarkably cold hearted to me. Did it ever occur to someone that there's a reason why that Xmas card didn't come this year? A good one, like family illness, divorce, death, poverty? And that maybe your Xmas card was needed on their end more than their card to you was needed on your end? Perhaps there's a reason why (other than annoyance at Twitter in general) and that it needs your social attention.

With a browser centered around people, and not metadata about people like we have today, there wouldn't be any buddy lists, or favorite people, or followisms, because the proximity and presence of a person would be completely dependent on the measure of the interaction, or relationship, or feeling about a person. There's only one list - the encounter list, and everything else is a metric around that.

There could be plenty of plug-in tools to help you reconnect with names you've buddy listed but with whom you've lost contact (the longer you go without talking to someone, the harder it is to reconnect on your own). So, this Remindr(tm) service would bring someone who has faded into the background (literally, if that's the GUI option you choose) from dis-interaction to the forefront.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Facebook | Interactive Friends Graph

Facebook Interactive Friends Graph

There are dozens of social networking visualization tools like this on the web, and there's a great website/blog at that shows hundreds more. Mu, with its graphic interface, would be enabled to show any of these visualizations with plugins of various kinds and be socially interactive at the same time, which none of these are - they're simply pretty pictures. I can't click on these circles and interact with the people behind them. I can't go their blogs, or view my interactivity with them in the past, or initiate an IM session, or create a chat session within my "inner circle", or call up their profile, or broadcast the equivalent of a twitter tweet (which is nothing more than an IM:CC, or anycast txt message) - and we sure as #$*%%$ wouldn't have to deal with and it's constant downage or inability to change notification status problems.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Brad's Thoughts on the Social Graph

Brad's Thoughts on the Social Graph

short answer: mu

long answer: there isnt much in his blog post that I agree with actually.

First, there isnt any such thing as THE social graph, and there never ever will be. There's all kinds of social graphs, all depending on so many subjective factors, like how one is connected, as opposed to just the 'yes/no' status of connection. There's also the factor of 'which aspect of me is connected to which aspect of you' which stems from the fact that we all have different personas, both in life, and on the Internet.

You also have to have usernames, passwords (or hopefully you use OpenID instead), a way to invite friends, add/remove friends, and the list goes on.

Um, no you dont. You already have them, somewhere, be they in an address book or buddy list. You dont need to give dopplr the information, you just need the code from dopplr, and Ill pass it along to those people in my encountered list that I want to play this game with.

People are getting sick of registering and re-declaring their friends on every site.

Yes, that's registrationitis, and it's inevitable, because using a remote server website to manage your relationships is bass-ackwards. They dont need your information, you just need their app code on your computer. So far, Facebook has only given me about 10 different options to describe how I met someone. Most of them are silly, and why cant I create my own labels/tags to describe my relationship? Why do I have to publicly declare how I met someone? Do you honestly think the WWW is going to create a universal definition of Homey?

Establish a non-profit and open source software (with copyrights held by the non-profit) which collects, merges, and redistributes the graphs from all other social network sites into one global aggregated graph.

Um, fuck you very much, but no.
Copyrights of *what* held by the non profit? The graph itself? It's my fucking network thanks, it's *MY* copyright. This supposedly benevolent supergraph would immediately become a target of every nutcase and dictator to be on the planet. Its my information, I'll keep it on my computer, fuck you very much. I would never ever trust a non profit with this information - they have no incentive to respond to my needs.

A user should then be able to log into a social application (e.g. for the first time, ideally but not necessarily with OpenID, and be presented with a dialog like, "Hey, we see from public information elsewhere that you already have 28 friends already using dopplr, shown below with rationale about why we're recommending them (what usernames they are on other sites). Which do you want to be friends with here? Or click 'select-all'." just because you two already declared your relationship publicly somewhere else

Why don't you just give me the code to plug into my people browser and Ill match up the people myself, so I dont have to publicly declare my relationship to anyone? it's none of your business.

The goal is not to replace Facebook

I'm sorry, my goal IS to replace facebook, and myspace, and friendster and AOL and and every other social web 2.0 its-really-a-feature-not-a-website business. THEY ARE WORTHLESS.

The goal is not to build a social networking site or anything that's fun for the end-user. Rather, the goal is to build the guts that allow a thousand new social applications to bloom, like Dopplr, etc.

Then create a standard people browser, like Mu, that allows you to plug in any code and keep it on your own computer and only share it with those you choose.

The goal is not to replace Plaxo

Then youve already lost me because Plaxo is 15 years too late. If a people browser had been invented in '95 alongside a web browser, it would have never been created, and as soon as we can create an intelligent address book/encounter list/mu browser, it will fold too.

Requiring browser add-ons or other end-user downloads is a nonstarter. This all must run primarily on the web. Some functionality for some (uncooperative) sites will require a browser plugin, but most won't.

Evidently, he hasnt read dvoraks article about webservices. Why must all of this exist on a web server? Youre right, this shouldnt be a browser addon, because it should be a browser itself. If the website isnt going to be cooperative, then it wont work in my people browser, and they will lose, not me.

For instance, collecting their friends on a site like MySpace (if they configure it to) is okay, but scraping their friends-of-friends isn't cool because that isn't their data. It's either those friends' data or MySpace's... definitely not the user who downloaded the add-on.

The solution is to not make the friend list public in the first place!! Since when is ones buddy list a default public thing anyway?

I'm not sure if the author is naive, stupid or aiming to become master of the world, but his proposal SCARES me. It should scare you too, and everything in the world should be done to fight this.

The Jeff Pulver Blog: How Asynchronous Communications became the new Synchronous:

The Jeff Pulver Blog: How Asynchronous Communications became the new Synchronous:

Aynchronous communications have only become the new synchronous communications because synchcom has been sorely neglected. My suspicions is most CEOs are worried about the liability of pedophiles and children, quite frankly. But it's only a liability if a chat room is centered around a server-based system. In a p2p model, you only communicate with people you already know, so it's never a problem. (How to meet new people is a completely seperate issue not addressed by mu in and of itself, but trust me, its addressed).

Here Jeff discusses how omnicasting and omnicatching overlap - a smart system would be able to sort and seperate output and input, and via the mu interface, present communications to the person(s) involved.

synchronous and asynchronous communications have always been a spectrum, just like introverted and extraverted. computer technology is allowing us to fully access that spectrum simultaneously for the first time, yet nobody is doing it as a complete package. As long we depend on asynchronous objective server systems like the WWW, it will never do so.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Segregating tweets

Twitter suffers some of the same problems that IRC styled chat rooms do - like current chat rooms, people who tend to type more fill up the entirety of the screen (or, the shared, objective space, squeaky wheels hogging the grease). By segregating a chatty person's utterances, it results in them only filling up their own boxes.

I think it helps if one is given the option of segregating individuals, or groups of people, into what I've coined a VoxBox - containers that show comments, posts, or any general stream, in discrete streams, per person, but on the same page or screen with others.  People can be grouped by my Personas: personal, professional, familial, platonic, erotic, romantic, UnPeople, etc.

Here's a quick mockup of an interface design for a lifestream of twitter tweets. One is horizontally oriented and the other is vertically. People who aren't inter@cting (typing with @username ) and just announcing don't have to be segregrated into their own 'voxbox' and can be lumped together like the current interface (a "background chatter" box). Affinity and reputation scales can sort and group followers and fans into clumps.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Facebook | Compare People

Facebook Compare People

This nifty (and fun, and sometimes cruel) little program is actually an extremely important demonstration of my favorite mantra "Triumph of the Subjective," and in more ways than one. Particularly, while this is just a fun program, it's actually an illustration of a Peer-to-Peer Contextual Reputation System.

The application presents one with a question comparing two people in one's buddy list, asking one to compare two people as more this or more that, or to choose between two people in the context of "who would you rather travel with?" and then the results are posted and sent (if opted). Judgment and evaluation by comparison and sorting/ranking are examples of Introverted Judgment (Ji). Comparison, at its root, is only done two objects at a time, and this is especially so if one is looking to sort a list ordinally. Limited to comparisons between two people, Ji eliminates matching everyone to an imagined criteria (for example,".. is this person African-American?"), which is Extraverted Judgment (Je). Extraverted Judgment, which is objective, requires agreed-upon rules and applying an established taxonomy, as opposed to a personal taxonomy created on the fly based on the circumstances at hand.

One could ask the same question and eventually compare every person to every other person you've ever encountered, and then you'd have a completely sorted list. This would be true provided no information or opinions changed during this long process, and that no new items are added to the list.. This kind of process takes an *extremely* long time (as does all Introverted Judgment with many objects). But this process is very quick with the very limited set of Two.

The questions from this application usually center around a certain narrow topic, essentially creating a specific context for a reputation. Narrow context is Introverted in nature, and Broad context is Extraverted. A global and general reputation is Extraverted, while a personal and contextual reputation is Introverted. One can have as many contextual reputations as one can create contexts.

This is also Introverted Judgment because it doesn't require you to ask this of every person in your list. If you don't evaluate someone you've encountered, they essentially don't have a ranking within the context. If I've never asked a friend if they even know what Dungeons and Dragons is, they aren't going to have a D&D-playable reputation score at all. If one is a heterosexual male, there isn't much point in asking which of two other males encountered is the sexier of the two, as the context is inappropriate.

In the Mu system, I envision seemingly 'random' questions like this would popping up occasionally, with the frequency and relevancy determined in preferences, so that one would eventually get to everyone on one's list (or at least the highest frequently encountered people). There are indirect ways of deriving some of these scales as well. What's important is that *any* profile of a person be customizable - by those who buddy list them - just like one has the ability to tag any website. It's also important to remember that tags/scales/metrics need not be shared, or that they can be shared anonymously, or that they can remain completely private and personal. The current fascination of sharing and publishing everything on the Web is going to have a severe balancing backlash soon - and it should be enabled sooner rather than later.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A neutral 'Net needs up to twice the bandwidth of a tiered network

A neutral 'Net needs up to twice the bandwidth of a tiered network

The real solution is to let people Tier the Internet traffic themselves - how much control do you have over your *own* Set of Tubes? Think globally and act locally is an old mantra, but how much do people do that with their Internet connection?

Unless you go through each and every program and tweak it (and do you *really* know how many programs you have connecting to the Internet?), chances are there's one or two programs choking your connection when you don't realize it. Not every piece of media you download via BitTorrent needs to be downloaded immediately (chances are you have a backlog of stuff you haven't watched yet).

Where's my visualization of my Set of Tubes? Can I control my Tubes through this visualization? Visualizing my connection is just as important as visualizing the actual People and Things I'm working with in my browser. As we add on one more program after another to my Internet, something like a GooeyTubes is more and more necessary.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

More Metaverse

Web, Web 2.0 and Virtual Worlds » SlideShare

Here's a slide show from the guys at the metaverseroadmap project

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Slap in the Facebook: It's Time for Social Networks to Open Up

Slap in the Facebook: It's Time for Social Networks to Open Up

All of this would be achieved in a People Browser centered around the mu ideals - and it's continuously more difficult the more social networking sites are created with different vocabularies.

a peer to peer profiling system completely rids the need for *any* facebook/yahoo360/myspace/insertnamehere profile. all you need is a presence ID (OpenID compatible) and a presence server (if you want to keep your IP addy anonymous) like yahoo/AIM/ICQ or just an p2p IP presence broadcaster like Solipsis

At this point, "friend" relationships remain unique to the social networks. The web still lacks a generalized way to convey relationships between people's identities on the internet. The absence of this secret sauce -- an underlying framework that connects "friends" and establishes trust relationships between peers -- is what gave rise to social networks in the first place. While we've
largely outgrown the limitations of closed platforms (take e-mail or the web itself), no one has stepped forward with an open solution to managing your friends on the internet at large. We would like to place an open call to the web-programming community to solve this problem. We need a new framework based on open standards. Think of it as a structure that links individual sites and makes explicit social relationships, a way of defining micro social networks within the larger network of the web.
[There's the Friend of a Friend (FOAF) framework actually, for a common vocabulary, and quite frankly you dont need a vocabulary - everyone creates their own on the fly and it's entirely your own to use and manipulate (subjective) and objectivity is acquired over time as you share it with your friends. There's no use trying to establish what the DENOTATION of 'homey' is when EVERY relationship definition is by definition CONNOTATIVE (triumph of the subjective). There's no difference here between defining a relationship and tagging and folksonomies. I personally don't share my tags, because my tagging style is completely my own and pointless to share - I hate the wisdom of crowds - I think they're stupid. I love the wisdom of my peers however, to varying degrees]

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Tragedy of the Subjective - A lesson learned

Throughout many of my blog posts I've repeated, to the point of mantra, of the "triumph of the subjective" or, how the subjective (introverted) viewpoint always wins by default because of the differences between two people when they communicate over the internet. Never backing your stuff up and having a hard drive crash is the perfect example of the "Tragedy of the Subjective", because an introverted thought never shared is eventually lost.