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Welcoming Robert Scoble to the DataPortability workgroup

Added on by Chris Saad.
As many of you know, Faraday Media has long been a champion of user rights. We believe the user has an absolute right to own and control their personal information.

As such we created and promoted APML as an open standard very early in our company history. We then started the DataPortability Workgroup. A group dedicated to championing the cause of other open standards by putting them each in context as part of an end-to-end solution stack.

Since then, we have been both gratified and spirited by the support from the worlds thought leaders on the subjects of open standards, social networking and web-based software.

I'd now like to welcome Robert Scoble to the list of supporters and workgroup members. Robert is also a fellow member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup and his tireless efforts to demonstrate how being open, transparent and social can scale to celebrity scales always influences the conversation and helps to shine a spotlight on worthy companies and causes.

Be sure to check out Robert's recent troubles with Facebook data access and my post to the DataPortability workgroup welcoming Robert and summing up the DataPortability position.

Social Bill of Rights - Media 2.0 Best Practices

Added on by Chris Saad.
A Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web Authored by Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble, and Michael Arrington has just been announced. Read it here.

It is an evolution of ongoing discussions that have been happening around the web for some time now and it's a welcome encapsulation.

I would agree with some of the commenters, however, that the scope needs to be a little broader.

I proposed something similar to the Media 2.0 Workgroup back on March 13 2007. Here is the email.

Date: Mar 13, 2007 2:31 PM
Subject: A project for the Media 2.0 Workgroup. Please send your thoughts

I'd like to propose a project for us all... something that will benefit the community and get a good discussion going. I look forward to your feedback!

This idea has come about due to a number of contributing factors. Many of you have expressed a desire to launch a project to focus our energy on something practical and useful to the community and through a series of discussions with Marianne, Jeremiah, Daniela and Ben here is my take on a great project we can take on together.

Media 2.0 Best Practices

To give emerging media platforms and participants an evolving set of 'Best Practices' to help encourage (or at least help define) open, democratic and transparent interaction. Further, to help participants who wish to engage with those platforms to know, at a glance, which aspects of the best practices they can reasonably expect to be applied to their experience there.

What's it look like?
I think that this could take the form of a Wiki and a Creative Commons style opt in process whereby we collectively define a set of 'pillars' and social media platforms can ascribe to the pillars they choose.

I think that the workgroup should be responsible for writing the initial version of this Wiki and then moderating it once it becomes public.

Some topics off the top of my head:
1. Ethics
a. Disclosure (sidebar vs inside the content)

2. Participation:
a. Allow comments
b. Moderation
c. Allow Trackbacks

3. Syndication
a. Allow RSS
b. Full feeds
c. Creative Commons

4. Marketing
a. Spam Vs. Contribution
b. Pinko Marketing

5. Privacy

6. Ownership
a. Export of Participant Created content and metadata via open standards

7. Revenue
a. Revenue share with participants

8. DRM
Can you think of any more?

We can then provide a Badge that site operators can add to their site (much like the CC badge) that indicates their level of (optional) commitment to each pillar.

I think we are collectively uniquely placed to do such a thing.

What is everyone's thoughts?



Whatever shape or form the rights take, however, I'd like to re-dedicate ourselves (Faraday Media and its products) to enabling user control of their personal information.

We are, of course doing this with APML (Attention Profiling Markup Language) and - the first open-standards based Attention Platform.

Maybe professional journalism is dead?

Added on by Chris Saad.
The Scobleizer is once again (for the 495th time by his count) launched an attack against partial text feeds.

The most interesting part of his post, however, is the comments - in which he tells the guys at ZDNet that their content is good, but he would rather read coverage elsewhere because of their partial feeds.

The ZDNet guys claim they can't make money from full text - they need the traffic back to their page.

This comes back to a more long term question - how does one make money from the long tail.

In my post on the subject I quoted Chris Anderson who wrote:
Producers. Effect: Largely non-economic. I responded to a good Nick Carr post on this last year with the following: "For producers, Long Tail benefits are not primarily about direct revenues. Sure, Google Adsense on the average blog will generate risible returns, and the average band on MySpace probably won't sell enough CDs to pay back their recording costs, much less quit their day jobs. But the ability to unitize such microcelebrity can be significant elsewhere. A blog is a great personal branding vehicle, leading to anything from job offers to consulting gigs. And most band's MySpace pages are intended to bring fans to live shows, which are the market most bands care most about. When you look at the non-monetary economy of reputation, the Long Tail looks a lot more inviting for its inhabitants."

So four questions arise from this statement in the context of ZDNet and partial feeds.

  1. Are ZDNet part of the long tail? After all, they publish mainstream IT news. Perhaps the long tail can be seen as replacing the head?

  2. Is the Publishing/Advertising model dead as long as content, in its full form, is syndicated and repackaged by an aggregator resulting in little need for users to head back to the source and generate page views?

  3. Will we tolerate (and can we monetize) ads in the feed? The ZDNet guys say feed ads do not pay the bills.

  4. Do Aggregators have a social responsibility to somehow give back to producers?

This ties into another debate that has sprung up on Brian Oberkich's blog about his feed being used as part of a collective newspaper. He claims that it was OK with him until it seemed like the newspaper was running ads (which was against his CC) and he was being grouped with commentators he did not want to be associated with.

That page is, in essence, a single topic aggregator. What responsibility does it have to the publisher?

If professional publishing can't be monetized to sustainable levels, are we biting the hand that feeds us (as aggregators)? Or are we 'all the media' now and we don't need professional journalism?

Update: Brian says that the "Edge is not about content".
"You could always publish something to the Web. Now someone can acutally find it in real-time, relay it through their own attention signal systems (blogs (including link and tumblelogs), email, bookmarking services, social news sites, twitta, etc.) and help the collective swarm around things it finds useful."

Twitter vs. Jaiku vs. Loopnote

Added on by Chris Saad.
I avoided writing about twitter for a long time - everyone has posted how wonderful it is. Even mainstream media including the local Australian Financial Review (in which I was quoted).

There are two main reasons why Twitter is so great.

1. It's dead simple
2. It has lots of great people on it.

As Robert said in one of his Twitters:

"theuer: well, Jaiku is reacting slower than Twitter. It requires more clicks to see your messages than Twitter. And is more complicated. I never knew of it until today, which isn't saying much. What's cool about both of these is the people on them. NOT the technology."

The success of Twitter, though, makes me both happy (to see something grow so quickly and succeed so much - we should all be so lucky) and sad (to see two other services in the same space loose out on all the hype just because the 'right' people were using the competition).

Both Leo (TWiT fame) and Scoble got into Twitter around the same time and started a huge Twitter land rush. That, combined with a celebrity co-founder (Ev - of Blogger fame) made Twitter an instant success.

I actually posted about Twitter and Jaiku a long time before it became popular and actually said that Jaiku was better. But I think I made a mistake. A mistake the Robert Scoble repeated today in a discussion on Twitter itself.

Both he and I (much earlier) compared the two and equated them to the same thing.

I actually think they are quite different. Twitter is simpler, but Jaiku is attempting to be something more comprehensive and different than Twitter. The two can actually co-exist and compliment each other.

While Twitter strives to answer one question "What are you doing", Jaiku asks a very different question (implicitly). It asks "Who are you".

Where Twitter has evolved into almost a chat room, Jaiku has evolved into a Lifestream.

What's the difference? Well what you chat about and 'do' is only part of the picture. There are also photos, bookmarks, blog posts, music selections and more - each of which are not found on your Twitter stream. In fact I have seen many argue that they should NEVER be found in Twitter. Twitter is for human updates about human things.

The advantage of a Lifestream is that it creates a living record of ALL your digital activities. Jaiku calls them Presence Streams - but they are the same thing.

My Jaiku Presence Stream has my blog posts, my Twitter stream and my Flickr photos. Others include their links and more. While there are hacks and mashups out there to make RSS imports into Twitter possible - I don't think it belongs there.

So now Leo is moving to Jaiku. Does this mean everyone else will follow him? Robert already has.

With all the Attention being paid to both these services, a little known service called Loopnote is being overlooked. In part this is because their team is not engaged in the conversation. If you read the comments on Robert's post about setting up a Jaiku account, Martin (who I presume is the CEO of Loopnote) is asking frantically why no one is paying attention to his product.

As Robert says - you have to join the conversation Martin.

Maybe Loopnote is not quite as good as Twitter (for example it seems to have more of a focus on announcements from groups to individuals rather than individuals to individuals), but it's also a little bit of luck. If Leo stumbled into Loopnote first, maybe the whole thing would have gone a different way.

This post is getting a little long.. but I'd also like to point out a very clever observation that Robert makes on this post about Twitter's potential for advertisers.

"You're missing the even bigger opportunity for marketers: people are telling us WHAT THEY USE and WHAT THEY LIKE.

If you can listen and learn to engage people on Twitter you'll find a marketing goldmine here. If I were really smart, I'd hire a team to categorize each Twitterer 24-hours-a-day. I'd start building a database of behaviors shared.

Someone say "changing the diapers." Well, now we know they have a newborn at home. What could marketers do with THAT? TONS!"

What you are actually talking about is 'Attention Data' Robert. I think that Jaiku does a better job at getting a complete picture of your Attention Data (considering you can stream all your personal RSS into it). But rather than give it to advertisers (yuk) there are opportunities to create personal filters out of the information to help reduce information overload.

See: APML and Touchstone. More on this later.

Phil Morle says "We need time to think"

Added on by Chris Saad.
Phil Morle has just posted about the information overload and media 2.0 scale issues I have been covering lately and he makes an excellent point:
"We are becoming good filters, but poor philosophers. We are good at information retrieval and storage and not so good at the long-thought. We need machines to become better at filtering media 2.0 - show us the important stuff, let us get into the background stuff if we have the time and let us trust that we aren't missing anything. We need time to think." [Emphasis added]
To put it another way, I wonder if we have more information... but less understanding.

Just like 24 hour news networks (who suffer from too much chatter and not enough context), we spend so much time trying to keep up with, comment about and clip/snip/remix everything we may have forgotten how to keep perspective.

Watching Robert Scoble's presentation about "Living in a Google World" it struck me that he has learned a lot about filtering information for himself. He admits he does a lot of his filtering based on how a post or headline might catch his eye, and also by a learned sense of authority about the author of a post.

It's great that people like us have time to process all this information and think deeply about information consumption and trends.

But I think most people don't have time.

Knowledge workers have traditionally had the benefit of analyst reports and high-quality premium data to give them insight into emerging trends.

Now, however, there is a need for them to join the real-time conversation and filter information for themselves. How will this affect their ability to synthesize new ideas and keep their eye on long-term opportunities?

I fear most people will end up in a reactive echo-chamber world with very little original thought because they are too busy just trying to keep up. Or maybe that's nothing new?

I'd like to think there is a better way...

Does Media 2.0 Scale? When do we reach Saturation?

Added on by Chris Saad.
I have had this question in the back of my mind for a month now.

"Does Media 2.0 Scale"

If one of the tenets of being in 'Social Media' is for everyone to be... well... social - at one point does your ability to socialize reach saturation point?

To me, Robert Scoble is the best example of this emerging problem.

It seems to me that he is the ultimate Social Media 'celebrity'. He takes his social responsibility seriously. He lists his cell phone and email address on his website and responds to most of his email. He blogs like crazy and comments on blogs that mention him. He talks on panels and joins all sorts of crazy workgroups.

And now... he is adding every single one of his followers on Twitter as a friend!

This is at once both admirable and crazy. How can he possible keep up?

Surely he has (or soon will) reach the limits of his social scale.

I'd like to ask Robert, as one of Media 2.0's leading social celebrities, to write a post about how he deals with all these people coming at him asking for attention - how does he Pay Attention to everyone.

Consider also that if Robert is the new model of celebrity - where the host of your favourite TV show needs to be accessible and social - how does this kind of activity scale to mainstream levels.

Fill us in Robert!

What does everyone else think? Perhaps this is a follow on from the 'My Media Consumption Diet' meme. How do you decide what to ignore and how do you try to scale up your social interactions. How is it possible for more visible people to do the same. How can all of this 'level up' when social becomes mainstream?

Maybe scale is not a desirable effect though? If we scale our interactions up - do we not necessarily have to scale the depth of those interactions down?

Too much to see and do - where do you start?

Added on by Chris Saad.
Robert Scoble is like Dave Winer - he's feeling overwhelmed. Not him personally, but he is clear that most of us are. He rightly asserts that there are too many ideas and companies now and many of them will not achieve critical mass - not because they're not great, but because there isn't enough attention spectrum left.

I think one way to avoid this overload is to stop aiming products at our own sandbox and start aiming them towards mums and dads, executives, knowledge workers, cafe owners and others who don't care about myspace, or social bookmarking or making youtube videos.

Another way is to just let the information flow over you. Stop trying to hold onto it.

As I have written previously to Dave Winer and about Constant Pile Reduction Mode it's important to remember news was never supposed to be read like email. No one went through their newspaper and marked off each and every article. They browse and they get what they can about their world before going off to live their real lives.

With this in mind, publishers need to start offering tools to their users that are designed with this reality in mind.

I am reminded by a great quote from the movie "American Beauty"

"it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment..."

Great movie - I suggest you rent it!

Peter Kim and Robert Scoble join Media 2.0 Workgroup

Added on by Chris Saad.
I'd like to publicly welcome Peter Kim (Senior Analyst at Forrester) and Robert Scoble (Host of the ScobleShow) to the Media 2.0 Workgroup.

Peter and Robert are distinguished additions to the group and I look forward to getting to know them better.


Please be sure to subscribe to the aggregate feed or OPML file to hear their commentary.

Scoble sells out - Accepts invitation by PayPerPost

Added on by Chris Saad.
The issue of content authenticity is very important to us here at Touchstone. When you are delivering news and information to users you want to feel assured that you're giving them authentic voices saying authentic things so it's in our best interest that the blogosphere is a place of trusted content (or at least a place where content trust can be measured).

So when the issue of PayPerPost (getting paid to post stuff about a company) pops up it piques our interest.

Robert is getting a lot of flack today for his announcement that he will be speaking at a PayPerPost event. Even Shel seems to be disavowing his writing partner!

The fact is though I think Robert is once again doing the brave thing. He is the most visible content producer in our little revolution. He is on the bleeding edge when it comes to facing all the real and emerging issues.

Issues that most bloggers don't have to worry about like balancing content creation, revenue and disclosure or reading AND responding to hundreds and hundreds of emails a day in an effort to maintain the social part of his social media. Or issues like remembering his responsibility to link to us z-listers.

The fact is though - Robert has been most transparent about his struggle with these issues. In many ways though, I think it's that transparency that has been attracting so much criticism lately. People expect more from him than Boing Boing! or Engadget exactly because he makes it clear that there is money involved and that money can and does change the game.

So that makes him the perfect person to go into the lions den and find out what these PayPerPost people have to say. To champion full disclosure and face the reality that where there's an audience - there is money. And where there is money there will always be scammers. We need to face this fact.

With great power comes great responsibility. And today, the barrier to gaining power is lower and lower. First we had Spam, then we had SEO tricks and now we have Splogs and paid posts. Someone has to find a way to define and declare our moral standard - and someone (or a group of someones) should document our best practices.

Maybe that's a job for a good wiki and the Media 2.0 Workgroup. But it is definitely a job for the Scoblizer on the front lines - demonstrating how it can be done by doing it. Stumbling, and doing it better.

Good luck Robert!

How to get linked from the A-list

Added on by Chris Saad.
Robert Scoble is a genius. I will say this over and over. If there's one thing he knows how to do is to create a brand of his name as the A-list blogger of the people. His trademark 'Who are you' opening question, his disarming laugh, his simple 'everyman' questions (most of which he knows the answer to I'm sure) and his ability to stem the flow of negativity with brilliant stunts all contribute to his power.

But this post is not just to suck up to Robert - I'd like to ask a question.

His latest post (and stunt) is a thread where he asks the question "Do A-lister bloggers have a responsibility to link to others". In it, he asks that question and then opens the comments for everyone to spam a link to their own stuff.

One of the commenter’s, though, raises a very interesting point.

Krishna Kumar Writes:

The PageRank algorithm is probably one of the key factors in this whole argument about link sharing. While the initial search engines used the “content” of your web site or page, nowadays (because of content spammers) authority (determined by incoming links) matters more.

The problem is that if a newbie or Z-lister has something really important to say or has some great idea, he or she will not get the necessary audience to propagate that idea.

I am not sure how this can be resolved because the commercialization of the Internet along with SEO businesses have changed the rules of the game that unfortunately now negatively affects new ideas.

And yes, a tech-savvy person can get his or her idea spread, but what if the person (non-profit, medical field, etc.) has no clue about Google juice and stuff like that.

I know that back in my Z-list days (I am now on the Y list for those keeping track) it was/is hard to get a post you think is fantastic noticed by hardly anyone. But is that because the A-list is so hard to break into or because the tools for mining the long-tail are so poor?

Does Google Juice matter? Does being on the A-list matter? Whose A-list are we talking about?

I've said it before and I will say it again. Personal Relevance is more important than Popularity.

People who care about what I'm saying should find it - irrespective of how many incoming links I have.

Why? Maybe because I am not as popular as Robert but I still want to be heard. Don't we all? But more importantly because a local school does not need (or want) Robert's audience. They want an audience of locals. And locals should be able to discover that content without knowing what RSS is.

Let's start a conversation for 08

Added on by Chris Saad.
Hillary Clinton launches a White House bid declaring 'I'm In'. Watching her video though (as well as a number of videos from Barack and Edwards - thanks to Scoble), I am struck by something that seems to be a recurring theme.

They seem to be focused on the idea of a 'conversation'. Are they speaking to us? You and me? The participants of the social media? Of course they are. They are announcing things online and trying to use the right lingo.

This is an amazing time to be a part of all this. I would, however, like to highlight a problem.

While they are announcing online and talking about conversations (giving the illusion of transparency) they are not actually being transparent. Each of them have been coy about their bid to run for President right up to the last minute. Hillary, even as of a few days ago, was still playing it cool.

Yes I know that's the way it's been done for years - but that's no excuse. Is this a transparent, online conversation or is it not. Stop being coy. Stop pretending like we don't already know the answer. Stop treating us like fools. We are not dumb.

Maybe it's asking a bit much for all of this to happen immediately. They need to learn how this transparency thing works. Maybe it will improve over time and they will actually open up comments, trackbacks and even make direct responses to the blog-o-sphere (feel free to comment here Senators) and maybe as a result... just maybe... they will begin representing the interest of their citizens more fully.

Until then I guess I will just be happy that they are trying to use the right lingo. That must mean they recognize the power of what is lurking here.

It strikes me that perhaps the latest round of Democratizing Information will once again force political democracy (in name) to be democratic (in form and function).

Maybe, eventually, it will create world peace. Just joking.