social – Page 2 – Stay N Alive

Developers: Here’s How You Access #Hashtags in Your Apps

I showed earlier tonight a way you can access on Facebook.com the stream for any particular hashtag without having to have a link to get to it. I mentioned Facebook would likely release an API for this. Being the idiot that I am I neglected the fact that Facebook already has a search API, and you can start using it right now.

Anyone, developers or not, can do this right now. Go to https://graph.facebook.com/search – add to it the URI variable q, specify a query (in this case your hashtag keyword prefaced by %23, the URI-encoded version of the # sign), and they add “type=post” to the URI string. In laymans terms, here is how it looks:

https://graph.facebook.com/search?q=%23hashtag&type=post

Just take the above query, put it in your browser (or send it in your app via a GET request), and it will return a JSON-encoded string you can parse and use in your apps. For the non-developers out there, that means there will be a bunch of {‘s and }’s and [‘s and ]’s with the list of all the public posts for that particular hashtag. It’s really simple!

The above example uses the hashtag #hashtag – to change it to something else, just replace “hashtag” with your keyword of choice. This one will do #fail:

https://graph.facebook.com/search?q=%23fail&type=post

Try it yourself and let me know if you see any quirks. So start coding my hacker friends! (and start learning if you’re not!)

The Fight for #Conversation – Will There be a Migration From Twitter?

There’s no doubt that Facebook launching hashtags is a big thing, especially for marketers, but I think for users too. Now you can add a simple keyword prefaced by a pound sign (#) to any post or comment and immediately let others click and see the entire conversation around that particular keyword. This is really what defined Twitter – it was the ability to have organized conversations through hashtags that made Twitter a breeding ground for conversation.

Now Facebook launches hashtags, bringing the same breeding ground for larger conversations to a massive, billion+ active user network and now you’ve got a serious conversation on your hands. To me, this makes Facebook 10 times more valuable than Twitter in terms of the larger conversation, and it really makes me wonder – will people have as much motivation to use Twitter as they get used to hashtags on Facebook?

On Twitter I know of many that use hashtags to start large conversations and bring attention to a particular topic. Occasionally these conversations trend and other users chime in. While Facebook doesn’t yet have trending terms, they are rumored to be launching those soon. What happens when these larger conversations move over to Facebook where a majority of the “local” conversations are happening? Will people have reason to use Twitter any more? If I were Twitter I’d be worried when both Facebook and Google (through Google+) are offering this feature. Twitter’s competition is just too big.

Add to hashtags the other features Facebook provides, namely:

  • Privacy controls
  • Rich, embedded images
  • The inclusion of your closest family and friends in the conversation (that may be a plus or minus)
  • Events
  • Threaded comments
  • No character limit
The list goes on… I think you’ll see more and more people using Facebook for these conversations and ending their use of Twitter. I always hesitate to declare “the death” of anything. I do think Twitter should be concerned though, and I hope they continue to define themselves and staying away from the areas Facebook clearly has the upper hand in. The conversation, through hashtags, especially now, is definitely one of those.
Are you a big Twitter user? Now that Facebook supports hashtags will you use Twitter as much as you used to? Feel free to discuss in the comments.

How to View the Stream of Any Facebook Hashtag

Yesterday Facebook announced that they were finally launching the support of hashtags, a format currently supported on Twitter and Google+. This means any time you include a pound sign (#) followed by a keyword of any sort (try #throughglass for a fun view), it will turn into a link in your Facebook status update or Page post and people can click on it to view all public statuses and statuses they have permission to see on Facebook with that hashtag. There’s a shortcut to view these streams of public conversation though. To see the stream of any hashtag, just put https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/ followed by the keyword you want to follow in the URL bar of your browser.

Try https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/throughglass or https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/fail for a few fun examples of this. Facebook has made access to the public streams for hashtags extraordinarily simple.

I’ve heard from quite a few that hashtag streams only appear in a popover on your Facebook stream. It is true that when you click on a hashtag in your stream it does this – that’s so you don’t have to leave your existing stream to see what any given individual is saying on a topic. However, Facebook has also allowed you to right-click on the link for a hashtag, copy the URL, and paste it into your browser’s URL window and view the stream in a full feed on Facebook.

This now makes me wonder – are we close to an API for developers on this feature? If Facebook is already providing a UI around a single page, supported by a single URL for each hashtag, it would seem it would be extremely simple for them to put all that in JSON format for developers to access and start to consume in their apps. I’ve tried seeing if Graph API might support this by turning https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/throughglass into https://graph.facebook.com/hashtag/throughglass but it returns an error. It would also make a lot of sense as part of their search API, however, trying https://graph.facebook.com/search?q=throughglass&type=hashtag also doesn’t work.

I imagine it’s just a matter of time for an API to come out as a result of this. In the meantime, try out the URL method I shared above and see what streams you can follow. Which streams are your favorites?

Image courtesy http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/what-hashtags-means-for-facebook/

#ifihadglass I Would Make Sure I Could Pay for it First

With the gradual notification of the 8,000 or so #ifihadglass applicants for Google Glass recently, I thought I’d come out and say it – make sure you can cover your costs before you book a plane ticket, fly to Mountainview (or New York City), and pay your $1500 to get Google Glass. The truth is, alone, Google Glass just isn’t worth the $1500. If you’re not a developer, or your company isn’t paying for them, or if you’re not building a business out of them, they’re just not worth it.

It appears I’m not alone. Joanna Stern of ABC News agrees with me – be sure to check out her review – her experience reflects mine almost exactly. Even Robert Scoble has said the same. The thing is both of those Glass users have gotten their money’s worth out of Google Glass so it makes sense for them to keep it. I’m building a business out of mine – you’ll notice I’m building apps for Glass now (if you’re a news org, contact me – I’d love to license you my software). I’m writing about it. I’ll likely end up consulting others on Google Glass. If none of that were the case, I’d likely end up returning my Glass, or trying to sell it on Ebay (no one says you can’t sell the Glass box and give Glass away for free 😉 ).

I see stories of people, right here in Utah, really excited to get their #ifihadglass purchase. What I don’t think these people realize is that they’re going to have to not only pay the $1500 to get Glass, but also pay to travel out to one of the pickup locations to get it. Google is not shipping Glass to these “winners” like they did the Google I/O attendees like myself. And for a $300 ticket on top of the $1500 plus over $100 in tax you end up paying for them trust me, most of them won’t get their money’s worth out of the device.

If you are a developer and want to build apps for Glass, this is a great purchase – only Glass owners can develop for Glass and this gives you a head start at being one of the first out the door with apps for Glass. If you’re an entrepreneur with an idea that would make your business $2,000 richer by having Glass, go for it. If you have a business plan for the device – it’s totally worth it.

But if you just want to be “one of the first”, or just try it out, or get a chance to visit Google campus, trust me – you’ll be disappointed and mad at Google for making you spend all that money. Glass will likely sell for under $600 I predict – wait for that. Or come find me and I’ll let you try mine out.

For anyone but those with a business plan, Glass just isn’t ready for public consumption, and that’s a good thing. This means by the time you get it, you’ll truly have a tool that gives you a better view of this world. Glass is an amazing technology, but I’m afraid in its current state and price, the public will see through it.

When Moore’s Law Meets Life Expectancy

In a world of servers in your pocket, wearable computers, and devices that track your health over time, technology is not only affecting our culture, but our physical lives as well.  I predict in our lifetimes we’ll see a healthier and more productive generation arise as a result of these devices. Our own lives will get healthier and healthier as a result of technology that tracks elements of our personal health which would traditionally lower our life expectancy.

Just like our own knowledge grows as the world around us appears to us in real-time, our own health will improve as well. With the ability to respond in real time to fluctuations in our health, we can catch things that traditionally would not have been caught until our bodies had become weakened.

It is very likely that, compared to our parents, our lives may extend up to 50% beyond the life they had. When you compare our parents to theirs, life expectancy is already higher. Imagine what happens when you throw technology and real-time information into the mix. There is a real chance you and I will live really long lives!

My Fitbit tracker and Aria scale notice my activity and weight over time, and alert me how to become healthier. We see devices such as the Tricorder that is being funded on Indiegogo, a very real technology that tracks blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and a number of other major health factors that if not caught quickly could significantly affect other elements of our health. More and more of these devices are going to come in our lives and they’re only going to get smarter. The Star Trek future we always dreamed of really isn’t that far off!

In hardware, there is a law, Moore’s law, which suggests that year after year, the number of transistors integrated circuits doubles, allowing us to do twice as much as the period before. What happens when this technology begins to affect our health? Call this new law whatever you want to name it, but I’m going to suggest the same will happen with life expectancy in our lifetime.

I predict generation after generation life expectancy will double by the time my generation passes away. Knowledge is power. Not just that, but knowledge is life when applied to health and our bodies. The more computers are able to interact, automate, and read ourselves, the healthier we will become and the longer we will live.

It’s quite exciting to think of it that way, and I think it’s a very real possibility we’ll see this happen in our lifetimes. So get used to living much longer than you planned. Build up that savings. Live healthy now so you can survive to that era. Make the world a better place, not just for your children, but because there’s a good chance you’ll be there too!

In the Internet of Things, the Server in Your Pocket Fills the Room

I’m going to go on record – the name “server” is going extinct. From servers that filled up entire rooms and buildings to just add simple numbers, we have evolved into a world where I can store a server in the closet of my office to do things like stream TV to the Xboxes in each room of my house. And with the Cloud, I don’t even have to do that. My Nest, my Fitbit, my Sonos, and other devices all use the Cloud to access the internet and sync with each other. But now with Google Glass and wearable computing I’m finding we’re moving to a new type of Server — the server in your pocket called your phone.

For the last several years if you wanted your portable devices to connect to the internet they needed to each have their own SIM card and Cellphone contract. With the many devices in our lives, that prices adds up more and more as I add a Kindle and/or a Nexus 7 for my 6 kids, an iPad for me and my wife, smartphones, and things like Chromebook and other similar devices that use cell connections to get internet. There’s a better way to do it and I think Google Glass is headed there – it’s through the server in your pocket.

Glass decided to take an approach that doesn’t use a cell connection or SIM card to get internet access. Instead, it uses either the bluetooth or WiFi tethering of your phone to get to the internet. It’s not perfect, nor is it ideal, and in fact I see it as one of the biggest complaints amongst users of the device. However, I think that’s a cultural issue that is going to change.

As I head out places now with Google Glass, there’s a process I go through. I check the battery on my phone and my Glass, make sure I have a backup battery, and then I turn on the Wireless Hotspot on my Samsung Galaxy S3 because it doesn’t support Bluetooth tethering. It’s not ideal, but you can see how just a few tweaks to the phone and a recognition that the phone is now the center of all devices around it will fix these issues. I can really see where Google is going with this.

I think you’ll see companies like Google and Apple improve your phone as not just another device on your home network, but the device that powers all of the “things” around you. You’ll see bluetooth profiles emerge where multiple devices can all connect to your phone at once and use the connection. You’ll see automatic awareness of the devices your phone is familiar with, without any user intervention. You’ll see better battery life and I bet you’ll rarely even take your phone out of your pocket, unless you need to truly draw or type something you just can’t speak out loud.

I’ve touched lightly on this subject before with the release of the iPad and integration of Airplay between Apple devices back in 2010 – we’re moving into a world where you’ll have many types of monitors that will automatically sync with your phone. One could be Google Glass. One could be the monitor on your desk. Another could be an iPad or tablet device. Others could be the windows on your car. Or how about Billboards on the side of the road? Or what about syncing with your brain waves and sending you signals with no monitor at all? Believe it or not, we’re almost there. Your phone will be your personal “server” and everything around you will automatically become aware of the presence of your phone.

To do this, Google needs to start improving the Android experience to do this – I expect they’re headed that direction. Apple does too. In the meantime, start practicing getting the word “server” out of your vocabulary – you are the server now.

The future is here.

Glass Explorer Shares 3D Printable Adapter for Your Prescription Glasses

I’ve got to admit – I love my Google Glass. A little awkward and geeky looking, yes, but for a geek like me that’s part of the appeal. There’s one thing I don’t like about them though, and that’s that I can’t wear them with my glasses, and I hate wearing contacts. It appears one Google Glass Explorer has fixed that though, and being the geek that you are, you can fix the problem as well, using a torx screw driver and a 3D printer (of course you probably have one of those as well – it’s cheaper than your Google Glass after all).

Thingiverse (the Makerbot community for sharing 3D plans you can download and print yourself) user “DDRBoxman” (Colin Edwards – Follow him on Google+ here) uploaded plans and pictures of a 3D attachment you can attach to your prescription glasses and have the Glass prism and computer there with you, no contact lenses required. The hack requires a simple torx screw driver to remove the main computer and prism from the metal that straps around your head from Google Glass, and then you attach it to the plastic clip, which attaches to your glasses.

There’s no doubt with the simplicity of this hack that we’ll see similar options from Google in the future. But this goes to show you the possibilities that are available when you can print bits to atoms and build whatever you want. I guarantee there will be a secondary market for accessories and attachments like this for Google Glass in the future. I bet Glasses manufacturers get in on the act as well at some point.

The big question now becomes when can I just print my own Google Glass altogether?

If you have a 3D printer, go ahead and print your own prescription Glass “Glass” attachment over on Thingiverse! (Note, Thingiverse seems to be down as I write this – you can find another post in the Glass Community, but you’ll have to wait for Thingiverse to come up to download)

We’ve come a long way – Disqus is Now as big as Youtube

It seems like just yesterday that Robert Scoble invited me to go with him to visit Disqus Headquarters with their founders Daniel Ha and Jason Yan out at their new offices in San Francisco. They had recently launched their new commenting platform for blogs the year before, and wanted some exposure from the Scobleizer himself (see the interview in 2008 here and here, where I’m in the background – filmed on Qik – remember that?). Just today, Disqus announced 1 billion monthly unique visitors — yes, that’s as big as Youtube!

While other bloggers are calling for the death of RSS, this puts a big dagger right in the heart in any of those claims, with Disqus seemingly at the heart of most blogs these days (and powering the comments on this blog as well). While there are certainly religious wars between the WordPresses and Bloggers and Tumblrs out there, Disqus has managed to remain an unbiased layer that crosses all of these properties. I think if this statistic is real (and knowing Daniel and Jason I believe them), blogging certainly isn’t dead!

If Facebook is the largest social network in the world with 1 billion+ active users (is that the same as monthly uniques?), and Youtube is the second, I’m pretty sure Disqus can claim to be the 3rd (or are they the 2nd, beating Youtube?). The cool thing about Disqus is they’re a social network of blogs and blog readers. In many ways they’ve become a glue that binds together blogs across the web with actual people and conversations between those people.

Disqus certainly has competitors such as Janrain and Gigya at least in terms of the commenting space, but I don’t see these claims coming out of those camps. If there’s a winner in the blog-commenting category Disqus is it. Congratulations to my friends Daniel and Jason in this amazing accomplishment! I’m really surprised more of the big tech blogs aren’t covering this.

Let’s celebrate this by clicking through the link where you’re reading this and commenting via Disqus below!:

The Death of Google Reader: Did Email Kill the RSS Star?

Alas, the day has come. We knew it was coming and we were all just digging in our heels waiting for the day. I admit I’m not as mad as before, as the dust has settled off since they killed sharing and replaced it with a very limited Google+ sharing feature (on top of the “send to” feature that was there before). At the same time we see other “social networks” of Google’s (Youtube) hitting over a billion active users. Compared to that, Google Reader was minuscule.

With all that though, there’s no doubt to those of us, the most devoted and perhaps heaviest users of Google Reader (I saw some stats that I promised not to share that suggested before Google Reader killed sharing I had some of the highest numbers of shares on the site), will miss the service. Like, a lot. So much that you see all of us bloggers that depended on its superior interface (which works best in Ninja Mode, btw) screaming from the house tops like little children. Many are even screaming that the death of Google Reader is the death of RSS and the beginning (or end?) of the death of “open”. Truthfully, there is nothing else out there like it and most of us don’t know what we’re going to do.

With all that I can’t help but wonder if the paradigm has just shifted. Users have spoken. While RSS is great for B2B applications of sharing information and likely won’t go away, from a consumer perspective I think email has won this battle. If your site, which previously had a “subscribe via RSS” button on it doesn’t also have a “subscribe by email” button, it probably should. It is evident to me that while many are searching for a new RSS reader that the answer for many trying to guarantee delivery of content will actually be email. In many ways Google Reader is forcing many of us to simplify.

The advantage RSS gave us is that for every site that implemented it it gave more than just a way for Google Reader users to subscribe and get updates one-by-one with their “j” and “k” buttons on their keyboards. It gave every user on the web a way to consumer information any way they wanted. And for that, I’m sad. Google Reader was the last straw, supported by a great brand that made it official.

As much as I hate it, I’m afraid we’re headed towards the death of open ways to consume information. Every website is being forced to create their own APIs for accessing information, and there is now no good reason to use a common standard as simple as RSS to allow consumers to consume information on your site.

There will be a day when we all look back and remember “the roaring 90s/00s” where anyone could consume any data they wanted on the web. The problem is businesses found easier ways to make money and RSS never found a way to fight back.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope RSS makes a come-back. If not, I hope some other standard comes available that makes the web a more open and connected place again. I hope big businesses like Google and Facebook and Microsoft will fight for that and provide solutions to make these things more widely available. Thus far they have let me down though.

With the death of Google Reader, a little piece of me dies. But with it, another open standard, email, replaces its stead. My hope is that even while RSS is not as important as it used to be, we continue to see businesses and organizations and websites and mobile apps provide means to allow consumers to consume information, at a minimum, through the open standard of email.

Until then, I’m going down with the ship. I’m not giving up, and we’ll find a solution that fixes this big mess we’re in right now.

Adobe Disrupts Enterprise Collaboration With New Tool for Marketers

Enterprise collaboration is quickly becoming the future of communication within the enterprise. Using tools like Yammer, employees have been able to collaborate between themselves on internal “social networks” where links, photos, and information could be shared. Now we see tools like SalesForce Chatter which attempt to turn employee communication and collaboration into measurable results. Enterprise collaboration is evolving from simple “watercooler”-type chatter to results-focused communication and collaboration.  Today Adobe took that further at their Digital Marketing Summit with their new UI for Adobe Marketing Cloud, which focuses on marketing-related collaboration between departments in enterprise organizations.

The entire interface of Adobe Marketing Cloud has been revamped to a very Pinterest-like interface allowing creatives, marketers, and analysts in the organization to all communicate together and come to results-driven design of each product within the organization. The entire design is focused on combining the best features of Adobe’s Creative and Marketing Cloud products to allow creative professionals to play a part in real results for their organization.

Creative professionals can create designs right inside the Adobe creative products like Photoshop, and have their designs shared right to Marketing Cloud for the marketing organization to review, provide feedback, and send back to the creative employees for revision. Both creatives and marketers in the organization can all review new data in a Pinterest-like “feed” within Adobe Marketing Cloud, comment, make annotations, and collaborate around everything shared on the platform.

Not only can creative elements be shared, but analytics and other elements of the Adobe marketing suite of products can be shared as well. Charts, graphs, analytics, and other points all have “share” buttons now that allow professionals in the organization share into the Marketing Cloud feed for further collaboration. Each new element appears as a card in the feed for employees to collaborate.

Enterprise collaboration just took a new turn as it took even stronger and more focused growth through Adobe’s launch today. The product is expensive, and will likely only be affordable by larger organizations, but for those that can afford it, the opportunities are endless.