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chilibean - Part 3

Thoughts on FriendFeed and lifestreaming

March 15th, 2008

fflogo.jpgReadWriteWeb has a post comparing FriendFeed to a competitor still in private beta, SocialThing! (I don’t think it is really a comparison post because there is very little information about SocialThing!). I signed up for FriendFeed a week or two ago and it is a great lifestreaming service and does a couple things that appeal to me. For one thing there is a commenting feature which makes it possible to comment more meaningfully on items that may not have commenting features built in natively (a good example is Tumblr which lacks a commenting feature or even services like which are perhaps less about discussion and more about one way sharing). One benefit of something like FriendFeed which I think I have started taking for granted is the following:

FriendFeed has a bit of a head start, but even barring that, there are more intuitive features in place despite its visual shortcomings. The most notable is that it links you to your friends’ content even if you don’t have access to a particular service. The reason is that when you friend someone on FriendFeed, that person has generated an actual account on the service, so they’ve elected to port in all of their desired feeds. So my friends can read my Ma.gnolia links even if they’re a users and vice versa. It’s in this feature that its real power lies.

With all the excitement about FriendFeed and the lifestreaming’s sudden uptake, it is important to bear in mind that lifestreaming has been around for at least a year or so in the form of services like Jaiku and, more recently, Plaxo Pulse (there are ongoing upgrades and improvements to Pulse so be sure to check back there often if you use the service and consider signing up if you don’t already).

I’ve been talking about lifestreaming for a while now and there seems to be a looming tension between content centralised on a single site (whether that be a blog, wiki or personalised/niche social network) and content that is distributed across a number of lifestreaming services. I have had most of my content streaming into Jaiku, Pulse and FriendFeed for a while now and I am curious to see whether the distributed model gains traction and I will start receiving comments on my comment in those lifestreaming services rather than on the source services? Certainly with content sources like my tumblelog, that is pretty much the only way to comment on posts (at least until Tumblr adds commenting).

If this shift does happen then we will probably see new advertising models emerge with the drop in page views and attention paid to the source sites generally. I am not sure how you would monetise a lifestream being run through a 3rd party service. Perhaps a revenue share option?

Another issue which I want to explore further is content licensing on lifestreaming services. There doesn’t seem to be much attention given to this at the moment but it is an important issue for people who, like me, license their content under something like a Creative Commons license. The services’ own terms regarding how content is to be licensed on their site will be important because they may seek to override a user’s own content licensing preferences. In fact, this will be an issue regardless of whether users retain all rights under copyright or they license their content under specific licenses. Either way, I’d like to see these services facilitate these licensing options.

I see lifestreaming becoming more prominent as services like FriendFeed become more popular and as that happens, it will be pretty interesting to see how advertising models shift and how people manage their content in this context.

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2nd New Media Marketing Conference preview

March 14th, 2008

I am one of the speakers at the upcoming 2nd Annual New Media Marketing Conference being held at Gallagher Estate at the end of March 2008. I was asked to prepare a profile/preview video in advance to introduce myself and give an idea of what I’ll talk about. I wasn’t too keen on recording my very tired face with my webcam so I put this video together instead:

Let me know if you are going to be there. I will be speaking at about 11:50 on the 27th and I will probably only be there for that day. Otherwise I should be at the 27 Dinner that evening where I am looking forward to meeting up with a bunch of the usual, amazing crowd as well as Catherine Lückoff and Beverley Merriman who are flying up from Cape Town for the conference and the 27 Dinner.

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Yahoo! embraces the Semantic Web in a big way

March 13th, 2008

I am not sure if anyone has taken a look at this in much detail (I haven’t), but it looks like a pretty significant step …

Yahoo Embraces The Semantic Web - Expect The Internet To Organize Itself In A Hurry

Stii, any thoughts?

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Posted in Companies, Search, Semantic Web, Sharing | Comments (2)

Springleap is sprung …

March 13th, 2008

Eric Edelstein asked me to take a look at an exciting new project he is involved in called springleap. I’m a little new to springleap so I got in touch with Eric and his partner, Eran Eyal, to chat about springleap on Skype. Here is the transcript of our chat:


And now for the interview. You will note that it has been edited down a little but just to remove some fluff (largely my own). The interview is pretty long so I have shifted some of the conversation to an extended section (apologies).


Paul Jacobson:


Ok, baby with mom, let’s chat about Springleap

Eran Eyal:



Eran Eyal:


what would you like to know Paul?

Paul Jacobson:



Paul Jacobson:


what is Springleap, where did the idea come from?

Eran Eyal:


Well - Springleap is an empowerment initiative for South Africa

Paul Jacobson:


ok, sounds broad …

Eran Eyal:


ranging from the cotton manufacturing trade, through the garment manufacturing industry to the retailers and all the amazing talented artists who deserve a platform for exposure

Paul Jacobson:


so basically bringing clothing and local artists together?

Eran Eyal:


Eric and I opened the doors to eSquared Fashion 2 years ago and our business model was to scour the world for amazing artists producing original desings on 100% cotton

Eran Eyal:


specifically with an emphasis on Asia.

Paul Jacobson:


Yeah, Eric mentioned it to me when I met him last year

Eran Eyal:


TO answer your question Paul - yes : in a way that has never been done before.

Eran Eyal:



Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Blogs/Sites, Design, People, Sharing | Comments (2) a niche social network

March 11th, 2008

You are going to hear a lot about Huddlemind’s new site in the coming days (if not already) and for good reason. runs on Ning, the fabulous and easy to build and customise social networking template/platform. What is great about Ning is that it is basically a social network in a box and what Dave Duarte, Huddlemind’s founder (or at least one of), has done is create a niche social network using a freely available tool. In Dave’s words:

It’s a network for people interested in collaborative learning, new teaching methodologies, and organizational development through Education.

Through it we hope to directly connect members with other leading thinkers and doers in business education.

It is also a space to explore questions and issues of importance around business education, teaching methodologies, and learning technologies.

I think it is fantastic. I have been thinking about Huddlemind as an ideal platform for anyone wanting to establish a community orientated site for a little while now and while I had a couple questions about things like domains and ease of use, Huddlemind pretty much clears those issues up for me.

I played around with Ning a little while ago and discovered how easy it is to add Google Gadgets and all sorts of other customisable bits and pieces. I didn’t spend too much time because I didn’t see the value of having my own social network (do I even have that many fans??) but there is tremendous potential here. Maybe I should play some more …

Oh, did I mention Ning is part of Google’s OpenSocial?!

Either way, Dave has done a great job.

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Pownce has more to do with email than Twitter

March 9th, 2008

twitter.pngI use most of the new social web services that come out (at least the more popular ones) at least once. I have active accounts on Twitter, Jaiku and Pownce and I have found it a bit difficult to consistently stick to one service so I have been using all 3 in varying degrees. Not too long ago I used Jaiku almost exclusively until I decided to rather use Jaiku as one of a couple lifestreaming services I use (others include Plaxo Pulse and FriendFeed).

I have tended to use Twitter as my primary “status” service and I have a bunch of contacts on Twitter already so it makes sense to keep using it. That being said, I really like Pownce (good design gets my attention) and I would like to find a place for it in my online repertoire that makes sense. A number of people cross-post to Twitter and Pownce simultaneously and if you see Pownce as a glorified Twitter then I suppose that makes sense.

Pownce and Twitter are both services I enjoy using and which feed into my lifestream services which are, in turn, intended to be convenient points of contact for people who want to keep tabs on what I am doing, saying and creating. So it doesn’t really make sense for me to have two identical streams of content running into my lifestreams.

pownce-logo-tagline.jpgAt the same time there is tension between Pownce and Twitter and the groups of people who regard their preferred service as the better one. I can see how people could think that Pownce is a Twitter/Jaiku competitor (I certainly did for a while) but I don’t believe that this perception is accurate. Pownce’s competitors, if anything, are email and perhaps even tumblelogs although Pownce is really more of a messaging platform than a tumblelog lite. I listened to an interview with Pownce founders Leah Culver and Daniel Burka earlier today because I really wanted to get to the real business model as a way of working out where Pownce fits into my toolkit. I recommend the interview because, in it, Leah talks about her vision of Pownce and it isn’t to replace Twitter. It is a pretty flexible messaging service and given a number of suggestions that IM is going to replace email as the preferred communication tool of choice, Pownce as a messaging platform makes a lot of sense to me. So you can use Pownce as a Twitter-style tool but try thinking of it more as an email-style tool.

Heck, people are even using Twitter in ways that it was not intended to be used. Twitter is designed to answer a single question: “What are you doing?”. It isn’t meant to be a general chat service but because of features like the @ reply thingy and even direct messages, that is what it is used for daily. Me? I’d rather open an IM session for a chat. At least then I can better track what people are saying to me.

Anyway, you can find me on Pownce here. Feel free to connect to me.

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Blueworld revamp

March 6th, 2008

I never thought I would see myself writing this (or even saying this) but I felt like an old fart wandering around Blueworld the last day or so. Charl asked me to take a look around after an update so I created an account (easy enough) and started poking around.

The first thing that strikes me is that Blueworld is a bit of a mashup of MySpace, Facebook and JHBLive (there is even an hint of Orkut). It is a social networking site that allows you to create a personal profile, check out events and just generally what your friends have been up to. Profiles have the usual categories of information about your likes, your specifications and your current mood. I battled a bit uploading a photo to my profile and eventually gave up on that, moving on to other things.

Blueworld gives users the option of uploading photos and videos and publishing blog posts on the site. Much of the content comes with Muti-style voting so you can either vote “Love it” or “Hate it” and presumably affect that piece of content’s ranking on the page concerned.

Tags are a useful way to just mooch around and find stuff and if you do find something you want to share you have the option of sharing with the usual sites (Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc). Blueworld also has its own internal bookmarking function. The groups are very similar to Facebook groups.

A really nice feature is the ability to drag and drop elements on your profile page around so you can make your photos, videos or some other aspect of your profile more prominent.

Although Blueworld has members who are a bit older, the site seems better suited to people in their late teens and early 20s. I am certainly not the best demographic for the site (getting older and I can’t handle so much excitement :-P ). If I were 10 years younger I could see myself spending a fair amount of time on the site although there would be a tension between Blueworld and Facebook for me. It would be interesting to know how many Blueworld users also use Facebook and which of the two services are used more. Blueworld has an advantage in that it is local and more relevant to what people are presumably doing here. Facebook is great as a connector but lacks that local feel.

There isn’t anything unique to Blueworld in terms of functionality and features but what makes this site work are its local flavour and the collection of tools and features like content sharing, bookmarking, social options and more. In a way it is similar in concept to the Zoopy site (albeit with far more functionality). Although their focuses are different, both sites are seeking to appeal to a local audience who want a South African site for their social interaction. You can do pretty much what you want to do on Blueworld and with a mobile element (which I haven’t really explored all that much but seems to be an sms service), Blueworld is a really funky site. I think there should be a mobile site of some sort (unless I missed it) given that the people likely to be using Blueworld spend most of their lives on their mobile phones. That is a feature that could take the site far beyond the Web site itself and out there into the general population.

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Is a 140 character limit so important?

March 5th, 2008

I was listening to TWiT 134 and the discussion about Twitter and Pownce’s APIs and I started thinking about Pownce versus Twitter again. I know, I know, this is not a new story and I am going to try not to get into the same old one versus another debate here.

For starters I agree with many commentators who say that it isn’t a Twitter versus Pownce issue because both have their place. What I have been thinking about is the emphasis on 140 characters and that characteristic of Twitter as one of its benefits. I suppose being forced to keep messages short ensures (in theory) that you publish direct and pithy messages and that has value. I am not sure how big an issue this is for users. I have also seen Twitter become a kind of IRC channel and I am not entirely comfortable with that mainly because I got into Twitter as a status update service, not a chat service per se. That may just be me though and a function of Twitter not having integrated and threaded comments.

I understand that the 140 character limit on Tweets is primarily because sms messages in the USA are limited to 140 characters. Firstly our sms limit is 160 characters and it is probably fair to say that most people have phones capable of handling more than one 160 characters part in a message. I could be talking out my butt, I don’t think so.

pownce-logo-tagline.jpgAnyway, one thing with Pownce is that the messages are not limited. If you take into account the Pownce mobile site (, the AIR desktop application and the site itself (not to mention what I understand to be a pretty potent API), I wonder what the importance of the 140 character limit is. Services like Pownce can do what Twitter does and a bit more so it begs the question what Twitter’s massive appeal is? The next question is whether Twitter’s strained infrastructure will have an impact on Twitter’s userbase?

I don’t really know what the answer is. I use Pownce and Twitter and have the Pownce desktop app and Twhirl (my current favourite Twitter app - also runs on Adobe AIR) running. I use both for different things and enjoy both. I guess time will tell how these services fare on the ever changing Web.

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Carte Blanche and the importance of complete conversations

March 3rd, 2008

There is buzz today about last night’s segment on something along the lines of social media which aired on Carte Blanche. If you haven’t seen the segment, here it is:

Most of the complaints about the segment which have been doing the rounds on Twitter and a couple blogs. The segment reflects a small part of the interviews conducted with, among others, Rafiq and Dave, and a particular viewpoint I would expect to be shared by people who don’t understand social media and are quite frankly baffled by this whole Internet thing. While the degree to which the segment accurately portrayed social media’s role and the people who use social media daily, the importance of having an uninterrupted conversation about a topic emerged out of it. The segment was about catchphrases and putting a cynical slant on social media for the folks back home who don’t use it and who are probably likely to dismiss it as some silly geeky thing the kids do.

I watched another interview about social media that was conducted by Jennifer Jones at PodTech’s Marketing Voices. She interviewed Shel Israel, one of the authors of “Naked Conversations” and what struck me was what a difference a normal conversation about a topic makes as opposed to a hacked up interview for the sake of extracting a couple catchphrases and sentences. Here is the interview with Shel Israel both as a comparison with the Carte Blanche style and because the interview was really interesting:

Like Nic, I am not overly impressed with Carte Blanche but at least they dealt with the subject matter, in some form or another. It is important to bear in mind that while most of us have been playing in this pool for a couple years now, we are not representative of the mainstream. There are a lot of people in South Africa who don’t use the Web and wouldn’t know a blog if it jumped out from behind a tree and said “boo”. This shift online will take time and, until then, we can only hope that the people doing the reporting are a little more balanced in their approach to the topic, even if they don’t understand it or appreciate it.

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Is Pownce emerging as the new Twitter?

March 3rd, 2008

There must be something in the air (pun not intended!) or it is that time of year again. SXSW is coming up in two weeks and I wonder if any particular service will emerge from SXSW as the Twitter of 2008? You may remember that Twitter rocketed in popularity during and after the 2007 SXSW and has been cruising since then. Unfortunately Twitter has also been plagued by a series of outages to the point where it is no longer news that Twitter is down anymore. That isn’t great news for Twitter and it must be really frustrating for the Twitter people that the service isn’t coping with the phenomenal demand.

pownce-logo-tagline.jpgIt was probably only a matter of time before talk returns to Twitter alternatives like Pownce (although people who I have read who are talking about Pownce and Twitter are talking about each as having their place in the ecoystem rather than Pownce being a Twitter killer). There is a little buzz at the moment about Dave Winer’s post raving about the updated Pownce API.

Sorry Ev and Biz and Jack, but they got your number over there at Pownce.

I’ve been asking Twitter to support payloads for months now, and now I have what I was asking for, but it came from Pownce, and it’s beautifully implemented, far more than what I was asking Twitter for.

Twitter was my first love, but now I’m seriously considering a fling with Pownce.

Leo Laporte chatted to Winer on This Week in Tech 134 (looking forward to that one) and I am sure there will be even more about this in the coming days. What I am wondering is whether Pownce is going to suddenly pick up loads of users in the coming weeks due, in part, to frustration with Twitter going down so often. While Pownce and Twitter are intended for different things, you can use Pownce for status updates and IRC-style chats that people use Twitter for. There is even a mobile client for Pownce in addition to the AIR app. I am not saying Pownce is going to overtake Twitter and become the new black. I just think it will be really interesting to see what happens next.

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