March 2011 – Stay N Alive

Kynetx Kicks off the Web With No Log in Button With New Browser Extension

In previous posts I have talked about the concept of the “Web with no login button“. I call it the next iteration of the web, Web 3.0 if you may, where the web follows you. Everywhere you go, the web knows who you are, what you are doing, where you are, and it adapts based on what it knows about you. The kicker is no server anywhere needs to know who you are. Only your browser, on your machine, will ever store any private details about you, and it will be up to you to decide which sites you share that with. Today at Kynetx Impact Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, Kynetx made that much more a reality with a new browser extension that runs off the Kynetx platform.

I’ve shared here several plugins that were written with Kynetx platform. There was my “like button for Twitter” extension, which puts Facebook like buttons on your Twitter stream posts. Former Kynetx employee Mike Grace wrote several extensions, such as one that adds the old style retweets to the interface. He wrote a filter to allow me to filter out Tweets on that match certain key terms. Ed Orcutt wrote an extension that shows all the other networks a user belongs to by just hovering over their profile on or and other sites. All these were written on Kynetx platform, and work on almost any browser.

Previously, I had to install a separate browser extension for each one of these. It was a pain to manage! With Kynetx new browser extension, I just install one extension, choose the Kynetx platform apps I want to add, they’re all installed, no other set up necessary. I get all that functionality in one single plugin.

Here’s were it will get powerful though. Now imagine a time where this Kynetx plugin supports Information Cards, or a similar standard. At the moment Kynetx takes you through the Twitter and Facebook authorization processes to access your data on Facebook and Twitter. An auth token from that process gets stored on Kynetx’s servers.

Now, as you go from site to site, your identity will follow you where you go, no login buttons to click, no entering in any id information. Your browser will know who you are and what you like.

Do you like Target? Target could install a Target Kynetx app. All you need to do is have the Kynetx extension installed in your browser, install the app, and now you’ll be seeing experiences Target has set up for you on the websites you visit around the web.

Do you like Facebook? Facebook themselves could be building experiences on top of Twitter and Google using their platform, using the identity you have stored in your browser, bringing your Facebook social graph into those experiences. The kicker is Google and Twitter wouldn’t be able to do anything about it because you, the user, are opting to bring your preferred experience into that environment.

This launch of the Kynetx browser extension, while small in scale, has huge potential for the future of the web. It is not limited to any one browser. It’s not limited to any one site. Now, your identity and preferences follow you around the web, and you get to decide what that experience will be.

To try it out, play with some of the apps at – the extension automatically installs when you try to install any of the apps. If you’re a developer, try out their platform and create an app for your own users which follows them around the web. The possibilities are endless! I admit this has gotten me using a lot more. With Kynetx, the Twitter inteface, and the web in general, is my platform as a developer, no new APIs to learn.

Work 2.0 and the Challenge of Work vs. Personal – a GRAMA Proposal

I’ve worked for many companies, large and small, and consulted for others and they have all had the same problem, particularly the large ones. It’s the CIO’s dilemma. How do you protect your organization and your customers while still trying to give your employees the liberty to do the best job they can with the tools they have? This problem especially rings true in a Work 2.0 environment – as Generation Y begins more and more to feel comfortable mixing their work and personal lives, there is a fine line between what is work, and what is personal. This presents a tough challenge for any concerned CIO.

Corporations are starting to overcome this problem by implementing solutions such as Good, or Mobile Iron, which aim to enable employees to bring personal devices onto corporate networks and still keep their private lives separate, while giving the organization complete control over the organization-specific uses of the device. Even in this solution, there are still pressing problems. What happens when an employee receives work correspondence in their private email account? What if a correspondence with a friend of that employee could potentially damage the company?

I’ve been pondering a lot about this today, in a different context, since the HB477 Working Group meeting I participated in with the Utah Senate this morning. Part of the problem with solving any of the public’s complaints (including my own) on this matter is that it’s going to be pretty hard to get Legislators to tell the truth and uncover the underlying problem. I’ll talk more about that in another post.

But let’s assume Senator Bramble’s question and concern (he was asking me specifically in this case – you can watch the whole interview and my answer here (skip forward to 1:21)) here is true. If the underlying concern is that a Legislator’s private life has the potential to be exposed on the Front Page of the Tribune under current GRAMA laws there are solutions to that as well.

My answer to Bramble was to put public conversation on public devices, and private conversations on private devices. Representative Dougall approached me after the session showing off his Blackberry, saying he only used a personal device because he wanted to “save the public money.” He too was concerned on how we’d be able to protect his private life while making his public more accessible. The problem is in Dougall’s case this would be really hard at the moment because he’s only using a private device – in the end, Dougall’s costing the public more money by not separating his conversations onto separate devices. At least that’s with the current technologies in place in government.

This is not a new problem. in every organization I have worked for, I have gotten work-related email sent to my private email account frequently. When this happens, I have always replied, adding my work email address in the “from” field, forcing that email to go through that organization’s SMTP servers. The organization at that point can decide what they want to do with the message. They can archive it for their protection, or do nothing, but at least there is organization in that way, and hopefully the individual I just responded to can see that I like to use that email address when I communicate about those types of issues.

In regards to device use, I’ve seen various solutions. One option is to force all organization-specific communication through organization-owned devices. Any personal correspondence on those devices are absolutely prohibited. I know many companies that will fire you if they catch you doing such. Personally, I think this is the Work 1.0 way though and focuses around a “you go to work and do work stuff, and go home and do home stuff approach”. I don’t work that way – I bring my work to work and my home to work and I bring my work to home at the same time. And because of that I’m more productive! Still, that is one solution, albeit a more primitive solution, and the one I shared in the Working Group today.

In a Work 2.0 environment you have to have new solutions to conquer the problem. There are solutions like Good and Mobile Iron that actually seek to solve just that. You can also implement open source and VOIP solutions to help with this. Through software, they give an environment where, if you opt to use a personal device for work, you can easily separate your work and personal stuff, and work can have access, automatically, to as much of that work data as they need. We should be implementing technologies like this in Government as well.

My suggestion for Utah is that we start to encourage, and make it easy for Legislators and Government employees to be separating their public and private lives more, through technology. This doesn’t mean they need to do it all on 2 devices. This doesn’t mean the State needs to track their private communications. This does mean that we need new technologies in government to enable this process, make it easier to share public information and protect that which should be private. I promise they’ll complain about it – every employee does when this is implemented in a corporate environment. But the organization (in this case, the citizens) will be more safe as a result, and you’ll save less money in litigation and processing costs down the road.

As for what happens to those private communications which perhaps ought to be public? Let the original GRAMA take care of that. That process has been proven, and ought to be expensive and a pain in the neck for Legislators so that they avoid doing them in the first place (yet, they still can if they really want to). In the end, making it as easy as possible to make communications on government-owned devices (or software) public will save organizations like State Government money and give Legislators more time to do what they’re supposed to be doing in the first place.

Do you have any other ideas on solutions to this problem? How can we use technology to separate a part-time public official’s private life from their public? How do we still protect the public’s interest in this process? In or out of Utah, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – this is something I think all governments could benefit from.

Image courtesy

The HB477 Working Group and Making Utah a Little More Open

The press release just went out. I’m going to be joining the Utah State Senate-sponsored working group, aiming to bring Utah’s open records laws into the 21st century. I’ll be among other notables such as Phil Windley (CTO, co-founder of Kynetx and former Utah State CTO, founder, Internet Identity Workshop), who are all experts in this field of open standards and technologies. This is a great move for the state of Utah.

Having written 3 books on Facebook and Facebook technologies, having written an entire site devoted to helping improve a brand’s reputation on Twitter, MySpace (and soon Facebook), and having consulted in helping brands, big and small across the web to integrate “social” technologies, I think I can really help in this effort. Facebook’s core focus, and value, is surrounding privacy. With Facebook, I can fine tune who sees my messages, how public I want them to be, and ensure my close friends and family are protected, while sharing my more public life with others. (did I mention my phone number is 801-853-8339 and my email address is Yes, I’m happy to share.)

Many of you know I have a Twitter account with near 30,000 followers (btw, numbers don’t mean a thing so don’t let that number make you think I’m any better than any of you). What you may not know is that I actively choose which of my updates actually go out to Twitter. I automate my privacy. I automate how I want to share data. Our government could, and should be doing the same.

It is based on this experience, and my experience helping other businesses, organizations, and brands, that I  hope I can help the state of Utah incorporate the same types of philosophies. The default for our Legislature (and I could argue our national governments as well) should be, “share with everyone” on any electronic correspondance. Then, legislators should be able to actively pick and choose items that do not go public when the privacy of an individual is at stake. Or, perhaps we could even automate that process.

I’ll share more of my vision in the future. I’d also like to do more research. But I intend for this to be an open, honest process. I will be blogging along the way. The first question I asked them when I joined was if the sessions would be streamed online. They will, and I’ll make sure you know how to access those. I want you to comment and participate – I’ll make sure we have multiple avenues for that to happen. If I’m not being open enough let me know – this entire process should be the epitome of what this group is set out to do. I intend to eat my own dog food.

If you have any ideas or suggestions you would like me to bring to this group, please discuss in the comments. No idea is too stupid for this.

As a final disclosure, yes, I do manage the “Repeal HB477” Facebook Page. I’ve been clear about my opinions on this. I don’t intend for that to go away, nor do my opinions surrounding that go away. I do believe in coming up with a solution however, and more than any type of “repeal” legislature I want a solution that is fair, balanced, supports the citizens of Utah (as well as the Press), but at the same time allows citizens the privacy they need when they talk to their elected representatives. That’s just my opinion though – I want to go in with all of your opinions as well so please let me know your thoughts!

Lastly, just to be clear up front (remember, this is an open process), I do currently work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. No, I am not entering this position as an employee of the Church. It is in no way affiliated, sponsored, directed, nor suggested by the Church in any way. This is simply a part of my professional consulting practice that I do on the side, and I intend to approach it as such. I will not be reporting to the Church on any of this, nor will they have any part in this process. I just want to be clear on that. Any comment here, in the group, or elsewhere surrounding this working group and the policies discussed are my own opinions and not to be construed as anything else.

So what ideas do you have for me? What can I bring into this working group? What other examples should I look towards as we approach this difficult subject?

Image courtesy

Twitter is Finally Doing the Right Thing

Developers are up in arms over new changes to Twitter’s policies. Today Ryan Sarver, Twitter’s Director of Platform, stated in an email to developers that “developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no.” I applaud the effort however, as Twitter is a) becoming more open and honest about their policies, and b) I’ve been recommending this move since 2009.

In June of 2009 (and in many Tweets the years before), I suggested that “Twitter has never had control over how Tweets get to users.” I suggested that by owning the client they own advertising, and that was the best way they could monetize. By making this move today they’re putting their stake in the sand (albeit without buying Tweetdeck, but buying Tweetie instead), and taking control of some really great ways to monetize Twitter.

Twitter should now take this as an opportunity to build a platform out of the client. Now, with their new user interface on, and control of the mobile experience, they should be building ways for developers to tie into the user experience and enhance what users are getting out of Twitter. Seesmic Desktop is taking this approach right now, allowing developers to integrate into their client experience, creating many very interesting tie ins to the Seesmic platform. While this move is probably bad for Seesmic (unless Twitter buys Seesmic), it is the direction Twitter should go.

If you remember, Facebook did this early on – when they launched their platform they built ways for developers to, rather than need to build clients to enhance the experience. Facebook allows “Canvas Pages” for developers to build on top of, and “integration points” for developers to build access to every part of the Facebook experience. (I cover these in my new book)

Owning the client opens up a whole wealth of opportunities for Twitter – I just wish they had done it sooner. Let’s hope they continue being honest about their roadmap and developers aren’t strung along in the future like they have the last several years. I met with Ryan Sarver yesterday – I admit I had a new respect for Twitter after talking to him. Twitter is in a good stance now for the future, and I look forward to seeing where they go with this.

Utah Just Made Government Across the U.S. a Little More Closed

I don’t get political on this blog very often (honestly, I hate politics), but when I do you can know either 1) it’s technology related, or 2) it’s important to me.  This one is both of those. The issue is related to Utah’s House Bill 0477 (please read the whole thing if you get a chance), a bill which intends to make it harder for media outlets to request private communications between government officials, in order to save the costs of processing such requests.

The bill’s main intent, according to the “Senate Site” (a site sponsored by the Utah State Senate Majority), is to stop “Fishing Expeditions”, which are supposedly burdening State Senators and House Representatives and costing the State money with requests through the Government Records Access and Management Act, a Freedom of Information Act equivalent for Utah. It would seem like a legitimate cause at the front, but there are some serious concerns. Here are my personal concerns with the bill:

  1. The Bill was passed in 2 days. The bill was rumored to have been thrown around just a week before according to Utah Governor Gary Herbert, and was submitted just 48 hours before it hit the Utah House floor. In just 2 hours it was passed in the House with a 61-12 vote for the bill and swept through the Senate with a 21-7 vote for the bill, and will be signed into Law by the Governor on Monday. Not to mention the fact that it was passed on a Friday, with no opportunity for representatives or Senators to hear complaints from citizens over the weekend.

    Besides the fact that it passed so quickly and the fact that many representatives admitted they didn’t even have time to read it (and still voted for it), the lack of Due Process on this bill is simply unconstitutional! The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution states, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” I haven’t seen any record of anyone bringing this up during the session, wich to me is just dumbfounding! Here we have a bill which gives citizens more liberties into keeping checks on their government, and a bill which claims to remove some of those liberties comes into effect with just 2 days notice to debate! Where’s the due process here? Something’s fishy here – someone’s not telling the whole truth here and trying to get past an annoyance at the expense of the US Constitution. That’s plain wrong (not to mention illegal and costly)

  2. The bill has major flaws! Supposedly 2 hours were spent on Friday morning with “Media lawyers”, but no thought was put into the technology wording put into the bill. For instance, section 24b-D of the bill states, when suggesting what records may be requested:

    “‘Record’ does not mean:…(D) a text message, or similar text-based document, other than an email, that is electronically exchanged by means of a phone number;”

    This, according to the Senate Site, is intended to just bring GRAMA into a more modern light, but making it harder to access text messages between government officials. Let’s assume that’s even okay (which I think is still very wrong). Never mind the fact that SMS and Text messages aren’t even sent by means of phone numbers any more (they are mostly sent through IP addresses and similar protocols), but we’ll assume they are.  “Electronically exchanged by means of a phone number” – hmm…that opens up a whole broad range of possibilities as to what might remain private. For instance, what if someone sends a private direct message to Twitter or Facebook over SMS? Those too are banned according to this wording. Or what about an iPad that sends its signals over a 3G connection? 3G also relies on a phone number to communicate. This means officials could just use their iPad 3Gs and be completely protected by this legislation.

    Lastly, the text messaging clause, unlike the other electronic communication clauses in the bill, has no restrictions to it. In regards to voice mails, the bill adds the disclaimer, “unless the video chat or transmission is an electronic meeting as governed by Section 52-4-207.” Other parts add the disclaimer of access to the record being forbidden if it’s for the Government Official’s own use, or items that are “unrelated to an official’s government duties.” Not so for the Text Messaging clause – there are no disclaimers, making all text communication electronically exchanged by use of a phone number off-limits for citizens to access. This should raise a big red flag!

  3. It’s an embarrassment for Utah! People with National and International audiences are already talking about this (like Robert Scoble). With the affect it has already on the media (don’t get me wrong – this affects citizens even more than it does media, regardless of what the “Senate Site” tells you. Citizens are the media now, don’t forget.) it is bound to get in the national spotlight. Utah will be made out, just like the Feral Cat bill, to be wackos. I can’t stand for that.
  4. It will end up costing us more than the problem it’s supposed to fix. Think we spend a lot of time and money on legal bills now to process GRAMA requests? Wait until we get sued because the bill is unconstitutional. We’ll be spending even more.
  5. Finally, I have many other concerns, but most of all this Bill isn’t needed to resolve government’s concerns! With technology and a willingness to be more open, government can still protect the privacy of citizens while opening up what government is doing in an official capacity, with no human intervention like they are having to do now. I’ll explain this in a post tomorrow, but simply put, wrap a little RSS feed around our officials’ communications and you don’t need GRAMA in the first place. I’ll be proposing a solution on this shortly.
Everything about this bill is wrong. I fear that even if Utah’s Governor doesn’t sign this bill into law tomorrow morning that it will still get overridden due to the overwhelming majority, and as a result we’re going to spend millions in trying to defend this in court, defeating its supposed purpose in the first place.
If you’re in another state, don’t think this doesn’t affect you either. By Utah passing this bill, this sets precedence for other States to pass similar measures. It makes it possible to pass such controversial bills in similar time frames. It takes away a little transparency from all of our State Governments. We all need to be standing up for this bill and protesting it. This is a bill that affects every one of our freedoms – everything about it is wrong!
I’ve created a Facebook Page for this here. I ask, no matter where you are, that you like it and share it with your friends. Please, in or out of Utah, blog about it, write about it, share it with your friends. I’m donating $100 of my own money towards advertising for this effort. We need to stand up for these types of bills and ensure they don’t permeate our society. What will you do?

The iPhone is my All-in-One Device. Why do I Need an iPad?

Last year I mentioned I was torn on the need for the iPad, but that it could very well be a “context-aware monitor that I can take anywhere.” I’m rethinking that now though. I go to work, I have a 27″ Cinema Display. I come home, I have TV screens in every room, and a computer monitor we attach our laptops to. When I present there is always a Projector available. I’m starting to wonder – why do I need another monitor?

So I find myself debating again, “Why do I need an iPad 2?” In fact, the most interesting part of today’s iPad 2 announcement wasn’t the iPad itself. It was the HDMI attachment cable and iOS 4.3 that allows you to connect that cable to almost any device from an iOS-compatible device. To me, that’s the powerful part of today’s announcement. Apple just made my iPhone an even more all-in-one device.

I have a couple questions to think about though:

  • When will my bluetooth keyboard work with my iPhone or iPod Touch?
  • Will the Magic Mouse work with my iPhone or iPod Touch?
  • Where is the laptop-style (ie Macbook Air) dock for my iPhone or iPod Touch?
  • When will Apple start selling touch-screen cinema displays?

When I bought my iPhone, I was excited, because finally, it was reducing the number of devices I had to carry around. I no longer had to carry around a cell phone, a PDA, and an MP3 device. I had them all in one, and I only had to carry around one device. In fact I even got rid of my watch because of this.

So why should I get excited when Apple adds even one more device for me to carry around? The future is in ubiquity. Your phone will be your CPU. The monitors and displays around you will be their output. It’s evident, so why isn’t Apple focusing on this?

The first cell phone manufacturer to get this concept will win, if you ask me (assuming there really is a competition). The future isn’t in bigger and more powerful devices. The future is in more portable, simplistic devices that interoperate with everything around you. It’s in the living room experience. It’s in being able to take the same device that powers your living room experience to work with you. That’s the future of mobile computing. I really hope that’s where Apple is going with this, because if they don’t, I’ll switch to the first device that can reduce my need for both an iPad, a Laptop, and a mobile device. That is the next disruptor – will Apple do it?

In the meantime, I’ve got do decide: smaller laptop (Macbook Air?), bigger cell phone (Galaxy Tab?) – how can I take current technologies and reduce the weight I carry around in my backpack?

Huffington Post to Scare Users About Their Addresses, Phone Numbers

I decided I should prepare you for what is to come. You’re already seeing (hence my title – you can read more here), and will see over the coming weeks a hailstorm of critique, saying Facebook is sharing your phone numbers and addresses with third party sites and applications. Huffington Post’s (see the link above), and I predict many others to come, are, and will be absolutely incorrect. The truth is 1) we don’t know exactly what Facebook is going to do (and hence it’s too early to freak out anyway), and 2) we do know Facebook isn’t going to just share your phone numbers and addresses with 3rd party sites. Huffington Post makes this sound like they’re giving it away like candy.

Here’s what will likely happen:

  • Facebook will require 3rd party websites and applications to prompt users before they can access any information about you. This includes your phone number and address, and means websites and applications can’t just get this information WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION.
  • Facebook will prominently display a warning when an application or website is trying to get your address or phone number, and you will be completely aware your address or phone number could be used by the application. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO GIVE AWAY YOUR ADDRESS OR PHONE NUMBER, DON’T GIVE ACCESS TO THE APPLICATIONS THAT ASK FOR IT.
  • There is also rumor that Facebook will be preventing minors from being able to give away their phone numbers and addresses to 3rd party applications and addresses. This is something only Facebook can do, unless a minor is posing as an adult – unlikely.

Let’s set the record straight. FACEBOOK IS STILL THE MOST PRIVACY FOCUSED WEBSITE FOR CONSUMERS ON THE PLANET RIGHT NOW. They will be even more so after this feature. What’s the other option? Applications can ask you to manually type in your address and phone number each time you log in. If you’re okay with that experience, maybe you shouldn’t approve applications to have your phone number and address. Heck, maybe you shouldn’t be on Facebook in the first place – at least Facebook is trying to make that process easier.

In the case you choose not to be on Facebook, be especially careful – Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Google Contacts, and even financial services like Paypal don’t even offer this level of granularity. If you give them access, 3rd party websites get access to all your information, phone number, address, and all. In fact, for many of those services I listed, not only do you give your own address and phone number, but you give your friends’ addresses and phone numbers as well. Facebook doesn’t even allow that.

So I caution you over the next couple weeks – don’t believe the sensational headlines. Be prepared to stand up for your privacy. Facebook’s next move makes things more private, yet accessible, not less. At the same time fight that Gmail, Google Contacts, Yahoo, Paypal, and others all offer this level of granularity to 3rd party websites. At least Facebook is doing something about it.

For more background, be sure to read Facebook’s post where they phased this out in preparation for a better version here.