Category Archives: Social Networking

Match Friends By Full Name?

Warning: Snarky post ahead

Hey, here’s a good way to get more people as friends on our new social network: take a contact list from somewhere else, and then search for people on our network. Match people on our network by email address, username, or full name.

Email address? I sure hope the person I’ve been emailing has the email address to which I’ve been addressing their correspondence.

Username? Well, that’s probably not as unique… but in this Web 2.0 world, people usually use the same username across a bunch of different sites. Unless they’re like me and can’t make up their mind between nwadycki and nelswadycki. Or if they have a common name, and someone took their username on some other social network. Speaking of common names…

Full name? Sure, no one else is named Nels Wadycki. Might be more of a problem for my friend Andrew Moore. Or Carl Smith. Or Brian Cooke.

Now, I realize that Pownce is developed by a single person, and she has made a significant accomplishment in launching the service single-handedly… but Full Name? Did Leah check with anyone before implementing that? Or are all the Pownce users just supposed to know that their newly imported friends might not actually be the people they’re looking for? This seems especially true for people importing contacts from Gmail where just about everyone ever is added to your address book.


OpenSocial evens the playing field

This is a very good post on ReadWrite Web. I was waiting for some analysis of what OpenSocial really means for the world of social networking, and I think that post sums it up well. To put it into my own words: OpenSocial basically means that application developers now can developer for 2 platforms instead of potenitally tens or hundreds.

Developers have been writing and/or porting software for more than one platform for as long as they’ve been writing code. So really, this is nothing new; it simply means that OpenSocial and Facebook are (probably) the 2 platforms you’ll have to learn when developing applications for social networks.

Potential Items for the Google Activity Stream

Google properties:

  • Google Talk status updates
  • Google Reader shared items
  • Google Calendar events (added, invited, updated?)
  • Google Documents (recent changes, new, updated)
  • Picasa (new photos from friends)
  • Google Video / YouTube (new videos from friends)
  • Blogger posts
  • Orkut updates (whatever those consist of)
  • Gadgets added to home page, aka “iGoogle”
  • Google Shared Stuff (or whatever it’s called) added

External properties:

  • Anything with an RSS feed basically… including stuff like…
  • Twitter/Pownce/Jaiku, Tumblr
  • Blogs not on Blogger (like: Facebook Notes, LiveJournal, VOX, Xanga, Windows Live Spaces, WordPress)
  • Photos not on Picasa (aka Flickr, Webshots, Smugmug)
  • Bookmarked items not on Google Shared Stuff (aka, ma.gnol.ia, etc.)
  •, Pandora (any other social music with RSS feeds?)
  • Digg posts, votes feeds
  • Upcoming (Yahoo Events)
  • Apps built on social APIs (think Werewolves and Vampires), though these may come in the form of Gadgets

What I’m wondering – well there’s several things, but I think the highest on my list of wondering – is where the Activity Stream will be displayed. An answer to that may solve the second thing on my list, which is, how is Google going to decide who my friends are and which updates I want to see on the Activity Stream?

They have the new contact manager that they’re rolling out with the update to Gmail, but I have 220 Gmail contacts, and I certainly don’t want to see all their updates from all their Google (and other) activities… And I’m guessing most of them don’t want me to see all that stuff either. So… Google will have to do two things (most likely): 1) Have some way of determining who is allowed to see what (privacy level settings), and 2) create an algorithm like Facebook to decide what is most important to show.

I don’t like Facebook’s algorithm, but I feel like Google could come up with a much better one. I also think, though, that Google could create an interface (like the one on Socialstream) that would allow for a much larger number of items to be displayed and still make it fairly easy for users to understand.

I’m waiting for the November 8th (or so) announcement, but I’m pretty sure it will be a release of the API glue, which will seem underwhelming until Google (or developers) starting using the glue to stick things together.

Orkut preparing to take on Facebook

Orkut taking on Facebook is like David v. Goliath 2.0, but in the 2.0 version, David’s family has a ton of money with which to purchase him state of the art weapons.

Business Week has a long 2-pager on the future of Orkut talking about the opening of the Orkut platform a la Facebook (via TechCrunch. Here’s the part that I was most interested in, though:

Orkut itself could conceivably become a hub for accessing multiple social networks in one place, a concept demonstrated by another Google-funded Carnegie Mellon group last year in a project called Socialstream. “We don’t know what they will use,” cautions Brad Myers, project adviser and a professor of human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon.

But there are signs Google sees wisdom in a concept like Socialstream. In September, Orkut introduced an array of new features, some similar to those offered by other social networks. One addition was Updates from Your Friends, a box that alerts users to new photos or links to YouTube videos their friends have posted. Another was Feeds, which enables Orkut’s pages to display information posted on other sites—such as a blog from Google’s Blogger or Six Apart’s LiveJournal, or photos from Google’s Picasa and Yahoo’s (YHOO) Flickr.

If Google can integrate Orkut with it’s other services (like add a status update that synchs with your GoogleTalk status, or allows you to microblog from GoogleTalk), then it will certainly become more compelling. They certainly have some of the right ideas. And they have best-in-class office/productivity apps for just about everything except To Do lists. But will their push for sociality be to build Orkut into Socialstream, which would be a best-in-class social network app?

It’s funny cause I started this post in the morning, and by afternoon… More social networking developments for Google. Jaiku has been bought out by Google. Now, we all know that I am a fan of Jaiku despite only having 2 friends who use the service. But, once again, here’s the interesting part for me:

we’re eager to go beyond what’s there today, and build something completely new for you to enjoy. Take this as an invitation to join us on a journey to reinvent how you communicate and stay in touch with the people you care about.

The most obvious way that I see to read that is that they’re going to build a Jaiku app for the gPhone operating system. The second most obvious choice is they’re going to work on building Jaiku into Orkut to serve as Orkut’s News Feed. If it is the latter, then hopefully they’ll find a way to limit feed items by groups (as Facebook will be doing sometime soon). But first, Orkut will have to add the concept of groups to their current privacy areas of “friends,” “friends of friends,” and “everyone.” Perhaps the Communities play some part in the privacy settings, but I’m not familiar enough with Orkut to know.

The funniest part of the acquisition, though, is all the people on Twitter who are now fighting a Twitter v. Jaiku war via Tweets. Clearly a lot of people don’t know enough about Jaiku to realize that they can just throw their Twitter RSS feed into it and only have to update in one place. I’m sure that’s part of the decision process that led Google to buy Jaiku instead of Twitter. A very small part of the process, but part of it nonetheless.

Is Pownce not just e-mail for elitists?

From Pownce’s home page:

Pownce is brought to you by a bunch of geeks who were frustrated trying to send stuff from one cube to another.

Funny… when my wife wants to send me something across the room to print for her (printer isn’t networked), she just uses e-mail. Gmail is pretty good at letting her attach files and send them.

I send links and event “invites” to friends for things like playing basketball or video games on the weekends. Sometimes I invite people to movies. I use e-mail for that, too.

Realistically (I guess), a lot of it comes down to what your friends are like. I’ve had a hard enough time getting my friends to join Flickr so I can share non-public-type photos with them. I don’t want to try to get them on another social site (especially not one that only “allows” me to send messages, files, and links to them). So, I guess Pownce is really meant for those early-adopter types (I’m with them) who have lots of early-adopter type friends (there’s where it falls apart for me). But, even for those early-adopters with lots of early-adopter friends, what does Pownce do that e-mail doesn’t? Can’t you just make an e-mail group with your early-adopter friends and use that to send links, files, and messages to them?

My guess is that part of it is the Twitter-style psychology. If I Twitter something, it takes at most, say, 5 seconds to read it. The character limit makes it that way. If I write an e-mail, it’s probably going to be more than 140 characters. So, it will probably take more than 5 seconds to read. So by posting a message on Twitter (or Pownce), you’re telling the people who receive that message: this is lightweight, won’t take too much of your time (and probably isn’t that important).

Another part – guessing again – is probably the ability to send stuff to a bunch of people really easily. That’s basically saying, though, “I’m not picking people to send this to, so it may or may not apply to you.” If it’s not important enough to type three letters (or less) and use Gmail(or Yahoo or Hotmail)’s address book to pick out people to send it to, how important is it, really? Isn’t that just contributing to information overload?

I know it probably sounds somewhat hypocritical since I’m an information junkie, and I have been known to post stuff to Facebook in the same way that people probably post stuff to Pownce… but recently I’ve become much more conscious regarding the efficiency of handling all that information, as well as who has access to that information. The combo of Twitter, Jaiku, Facebook, and their various privacy controls set me on my current path. To me, Twitter is valuable because it does one thing, and does it well. And since I have fairly few Twitter “followers”, I know who is going to be reading my Twitters, and I can sort of cater to that audience. Jaiku adds value as an aggregator (and a source of “private” Twitter-style messages). Facebook adds value because Twitter and Jaiku both have hooks into it. It also has the advantage of having a bunch of my friends already on it, so I don’t have to re-establish my “social graph.”


I could use the Pownce application in Facebook to add the same sort of value as Twitter or Jaiku, and maybe even a little more because of the special link formatting and file attachment. But when I consider that value add, I ask myself: what files do I want to post on there?

The one case I can see where Pownce is useful is the events. Kevin Rose put up this invitation to a party and got 87 responses to the post. Of course, the majority of those RSVPed “Wishing I Could Come” or “Not Attending.” And that’s Kevin Rose. How many people are going to have enough friends and/or followers that posting an event is going to have a better response than (once again) sending an e-mail?