#occupywallstreet vs #thathighmoment

I just had another discussion about the amount of media attention (or lack there of) the Occupy Wall Street protest was seeing. There have been slews of reports that Twitter may be blocking the trending topic. I just did the most basic of tests. I searched over and over again for both #OccupyWallStreet as well as many of the current trending topics. Over and over again, it seemed clear to me that #OccupyWallStreet was experiencing far more posts than any of the trending topics… by a considerable margin. Check out the post times in the following image capture:

The Mess Of Social Media

Did you know kids don’t use email? They say they prefer social media and txt messages. The other day I opened up Pidgin for the first time in a while and realized that I haven’t added any “new” contacts in years. I barely write to my own blog and have failed to visit my RSS feed reader in a very long time.

Meanwhile, I use Facebook on a daily basis. Sometimes I keep tabs on my mobile. My problem with Facebook has recently become what my problem on MySpace used to be. I don’t like the software. I want something very different. I stay for two reasons. First, I know a lot of people who are active on Facebook. Second, I haven’t found an alternative I would want to encourage my friends to join.

The recent closure of Internet connectivity in Egypt during the revolution sends a strong message about ownership of the Internet. Ownership should be distributed. The tool that replaces Facebook should be distributed. Diaspora perhaps?

It’s really pretty simple. If we the people can hang on to the Internet – even if it means building our own – then we stand a chance. Otherwise, nothing changes from the way things have been for thousands of years. This is about to become very important.

Building Community: The Game Changed

My first online community effort happened in 1994. I didn’t have a vision or understand what I was doing. It was low tech and attracted a small population, but it filled a need so it sustained for several years. Back then, building an online community was actually rather easy.

In 2007, I was hired by a big name health and fitness company to develop an online community. The effort began well, but was quickly derailed by many of the most common mistakes that big companies seem to make. I departed the venture in 2008 and moved on to social media centric projects. I went back to check on their progress and found that the entire community, one that used to be hundreds of thousands of users strong, was wiped from the face of the Internet entirely.

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My Own Social Media History

There’s a silly link going around to see if someone was on Twitter before Oprah. Seeing the link today, I started doing something I’ve thought about for a while. I did a quick audit of some of the social sites I belong to and referenced when I joined. I also looked at some of my other social media activity in the process. It was surprisingly hard to find some of the information. For example, I can’t seem to find my Facebook join date. The oldest related date I could find was the oldest profile pic I still have up. Anyway, here’s the dirt:

Where When Reference Method
Facebook 7/5/2007 Oldest Profile Pic
Twitter 6/19/2007 First Tweet
Tribe 2/21/2007 Profile Join Date
YouTube 12/11/2006 Profile Join Date
Flickr 10/4/2005 Oldest Image Online
LinkedIn 8/3/2005 Profile Join Date
MySpace 9/17/2004 Profile Join Date
Blogging 1/26/2004 Oldest post online (once I started calling it blogging).
MeetUp 1/20/2004 Profile Join Date
Live Journal 12/30/2003 Profile Join Date
Usenet 9/17/1996 Oldest post I found on google groups.
Blogging 8/8/1996 Oldest post still online (didn’t call it a blog then).

On The Pirate Bay Sentencing

Pirates

Pirates

The file sharing rant has raged on for years. While the media industries claim that file sharing has hurt their market share, the movie industry is seeing record sales. For many, it’s obvious what is going on. With the advent of new media, we saw a shift in how things work in our world. Once upon a time, you had to have a lot of money to record media and distribute it. This need gave rise to a collection of media industries, music and movies in particular. Now, recording and sharing media is very cheap and very easy. The MPAA and RIAA are no longer important. However, with their size and power, they will do anything and everything they can to keep the status quo.

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You’re A Social Media What?

I’ve struggled with some job titles in the past. Occasionally I would be filling a new role that related to some emerging tech and have the challenge of trying to tell people what I was doing in as few words as possible. About the time I would finally settle on something I thought fit, I would either find out that the title I selected already meant something else or that the popular group think of the greater community already selected another title and I just hadn’t noticed it yet.

Apparently, group think settled on the title of “Social Media Expert” recently. Meanwhile, the title is being mocked in a few places. Here’s what I know about social media – it’s not likely, perhaps not even possible, to be a social media expert. If you knew everything about social media this morning (even though you didn’t), by this evening it will have changed and evolved so much you’ll have already fallen behind.

In fact, I would go so far to say that anyone who is willing to call themselves a Social Media Expert immediate brands themselves as a fake – a seller of snake oil in a roadside freak show. That’s not to say you’re not wonderfully gifted in understanding the ebb and flow of social media dynamics – but an expert you are not.

So here’s an alternative, call youself a Social Media Specialist. Face it, you’re not an authority on social media. Social media is greater than any one of us. However, if it is your passion, if you are dedicating a significant part of your energy to understanding it and being involved in it – then call yourself a specialist.

Hey, that’s just my $0.02.

Dallas Snowboarders: Two Weeks Later

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned DallasSnowboarders.com. We did some basic promotion by announcing the site in a few places online and started spreading the word of mouth. In the past two weeks we have had about 15,000 page loads. As of the time of this post, we have 29 registered users. If we can maintain such a good pace, we should be a very respectable looking community in a few months to a year. I bet we outgrow our software quickly.

Only time will tell if such an oddball nitch for a community will work out. We’re having our first get-together this Thursday. If nothing else, I’m glad to meet more local snowboard enthusiasts.

Open Source Social Networking

Social Networking is easy. Any user can jump online and join one of hundreds of social networking sites. The “friends list” concept is popping up all over the place. You can find social networks for posting pictures, videos, and even finding dates. Perhaps it’s the ease of use that enables them to be so popular.

What I would like to see happen next wouldn’t be as “easy” as our current batch of social networks. Because it’s not easy, I don’t expect the idea to ever take off. Still, I would like to see it happen just as much.

I would like to abstract the friends list concept entirely. This would also require abstracting the identity concept entirely (see OpenID and Sxip). Anyway, the concept is such that you manage a mast friends list somewhere. This would contain considerably more complex information than what most social networks offer now. It would allow for grouping, would show number of hops between you and another person, and would allow for public/private view management. Above all else, it would be build such that you are not locked into any one platform. If you build a personal home page, you could write an app that enables your social network. If you installed a piece of popular web software for content management on your personal site, it would include plugins to activate your social network.

Basically, what I’m getting at, is removing the social network from the walled garden of a service provider. Now instead of having a profile on a service, you have your own website that you can develop as you see fit.

I think that this concept will eventually happen in one form or another. It’s taking a while for the identity management stuff to catch on so I’m sure it will be a long time. I’ve thought about the problem in a few different ways and I’m not sure what the best method of solving the problem would be. Maybe it’s built on something as simple as defining relationships in your anchor tags.

Just thinking out loud about this one. If anyone knows of projects of this nature, please let me know.

A New Virtual Community: DallasSnowboarders.com

There’s nothing particularly unique about the virtual community I helped launch recently. The community is for the small but quickly growing group of snowboarding enthusiasts in the Dallas area. Thus, the site is appropriately called Dallas Snowboarders.

Here’s our banner:

As I said, there’s not much unique about it. We used PHPBB as our forum software with a few extra mods for a photo album, calendar, and ability to post video. We stacked WordPress up front for a very basic content management system. We didn’t take the time to integrate the authentication databases so we turned comments off. We’d rather keep user interaction inside the forums right now anyway.

An important topic came up while working on the site… WordPress and PHPBB are almost exactly the same concepts in software with a slightly different delivery. What PHPBB would consider to be a thread, WordPress would call a blog entry. Someone posts a topic, other people reply. The differences are slight, but have a heavy impact. On the blog, posts are always ordered by the date of the original post, not replies. On a forum, threads are bumped to the top when new replies appear. Blogs are usually setup with only one or just a few people making new posts. Forums usually allow anyone to start a new thread.

Given that the data management for both pieces of software are so close to the same… We talked a long time about building one piece of software that did both. It would be very easy to use PHPBB as backend software for a blog. Create a forum where only select users can start new threads, write some new scripts to display the content in a blog style format, and you’ve got a blog. Once you get this setup, you can create unique forums for every user that wants a personal blog.

I’m curious if this is a good way to create two conceptual interfaces for the same data.

Anyway, I digress. DallasSnowboarders.com is one of the first communities I’ve been involved in launching in a while. The last time I checked, we were up to 14 users. We announced the site 4 days ago. I hope it catches on, I’m eager to meet local boarders.

Of Course You’re Being Sold – What did you think would happen?

When Flickr sold to Yahoo, some users were concerned about the fate of their community. More recently, Google bought YouTube and now users are complaining:

Since it was the `people’ that made YouTube, why aren’t they being paid billions?

What did you think was going on? That some how people with lots of investment money just wanted to provide you with free bandwidth and tools to put your media online for fun?

Anyway, I got a huge laugh out of that quote… I said it before, so I’ll say it again… communities are big business.