web 2.0 – Stay N Alive

Web 2.0 – A Strange New World

Luke StayLuke Stay is my younger brother, and fellow geek like myself. I like his writing style so I asked him to start guest-blogging on Stay N’ Alive. You can follow Luke on his blog at http://lukestay.com, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/afrowhitey, or FriendFeed at http://friendfeed.com/afrowhitey. –Jesse

About 6 months or so ago, my brother, Jesse, would not quit talking about some crazy new service he was using online called Twitter. One day, I got bored enough and decided to check it out. Little did I know, that service would serve as some sort of wormhole, propelling me helplessly through cyberspace into a strange new world, referred to by its own inhabitants as, “Web 2.0.”

I suppose I should start off with a little background on myself. I primarily work as a Stagehand in Las Vegas, NV for the local branch of IATSE. My area of expertise there is as an Audio/Visual Technician. As an A/V Tech, I am paid to install large screens, large digital projectors, large plasma screens, and many other audio/visual components for the various conventions and conferences that come to town. Sadly, I still use a 32” analog TV as my primary source of entertainment at home (yes, I did already get my free digital converter box, thanks for asking). I am an A/V geek, an A/V geek with debt that can’t afford any of the high-end components he installs on a semi-daily basis. It’s a sad existence, I know.

That being said, I am no stranger to computers or the Internet. I grew up trying to get my family’s ancient computer to do things it shouldn’t have been able to do and crashed it many times in the process. I learned computers by trying to get the family computer back up and running before Dad could come home to find out what I had done … again. I took programming courses in High School and Java in College, but ultimately decided programming was not for me. Instead, I chose to study film and have aspired to the life of a screenwriter ever since. I can’t write my own code, but I can understand most code and manipulate it to do what I want. In summary, I am a computer geek with a pretty lame disguise.

I started using Twitter mostly out of curiosity. At first, I just followed Jesse and watched, observing this strange society for a month or so. Then, I started to contribute, replying to some of Jesse’s tweets. This got his attention, and in turn, got me some more followers and a much larger society to observe. Things were pretty quiet at first, mostly Tweets about what people were doing, or what people were reading, or what new technology Apple was about to release, but then came a sort of uprising. I was witnessing a revolution.

These were the days of the infamous “Fail Whale.” Twitter was down and the natives were getting restless. The few tweets I saw actually come through were mostly complaints about their ruthless Twitter overloads. “Where did @replies go?” and “Why isn’t Twhirl working?” and “Can’t anybody do anything about this?” and “Will somebody PLEASE think of the children?!”

Just when things were looking the grimmest, new services began to pop up. Some began to move their discussions to FriendFeed, but that didn’t seem to work as a Twitter replacement. Others seemed to drop off the face of the planet, or at least the Web 2.0 planet. Others still stuck to their guns, pledging their allegiance to Twitter despite all its faults. Then, a new alternative emerged, Identi.ca.

Identi.ca billed itself as Twitter for the people; by the people, and quickly amassed an army of rebels set on taking down the evil, unreliable Twitter Empire. Among its strongest advocates were @JesseStay, @MarinaMartin, and @ThomAllen, and a majority of the small group of people I followed on Twitter. I decided to switch. My name is Luke after all, and Luke would never let himself be seen cavorting around with the supporters of the Empire. Not even Uncle Owen would do that.

In one month, I saw more activity and more of a community on Identi.ca than I ever had on Twitter. People were coding furiously, tapping into the new open-source API that Identi.ca offered. Bridges were built, new friendships were formed, manifestos were written, and new blogs emerged to welcome in the new recruits. Then, almost as quickly as it started, the revolution ended.

I came home from vacation and began to notice a lot of decreased activity on Identi.ca. Only one or two of the people I followed were posting regularly. I turned on my old Twitter account and there they were. The revolution had ended. The rebel army had lost. There would be no triumphant Ewok songs to welcome in the new era.

I learned a lot during my time on Identi.ca. I learned how to track certain terms. I learned how to find more interesting people to follow. I saw a lot of interesting conversations. Most importantly though, Identi.ca served as a sort of microcosm to the way this Web 2.0 world worked. There was a problem on the web, a shiny new service with lots of great features arose, and the masses followed like a swarm of hungry locusts. Then the old service, still much larger than the new one, fixed a lot of its problems, and the swarm came back home.

Since then, I’ve branched out a little on Twitter. I began to get my own followers and have my own little network of videographers, editors, and film geeks. I’m even following Dave Matthews (@DaveJMatthews) and Stefan Lessard (@SLessard) from the Dave Matthews Band (who are surprisingly active). My observations shifted somewhat to FriendFeed as I begin to utilize Twitter more and more, and I see the same sort of Identi.ca cycle on a much smaller scale almost daily. The Web 2.0 world finds some new product or feature, rushes out to play with it, review it, love it, or hate it, and then drops it completely as some other new product or feature is announced.

I remain a somewhat casual observer. I learned my lesson. In this strange new world, it’s better to wait out the flurry of hype that comes with the latest new web gadget to see if it actually takes root. If the locals drop it after a month or less, I don’t bother. Who knows, it may be the next Empire Strikes Back, or it may just be another Star Wars spin-off; a Star Wars Christmas Special in hiding.

I am such a geek

Charlene Li and Max Levchin from Slide

Picture 8.pngI came in late for the Tim O’Reilly keynote, but Tweeted the highlights. The next keynote talk was a discussion between Charlene Li, and Max Levchin from Slide. Here are my notes:

  • Facebook is not a fad.
  • How do you make money and get a valuation of 1/2 million dollars?: “Advertising”. 2 different methods – advertising and direct-to-consumer sales. The next couple years will focus on the consumer sales.
  • “Juno” sponsored an action within the Super Poke app called, “Pregnancy Test”. Juno was utilizing Super Poke to draw a close reaction to the fans of the movie. Every “super poke” sponsorship has been a smashing success for the advertisers.
  • How do you acquire customers?: Precise measurement of users engagement within software helps to determine.
  • Is Privacy an issue?: Aided by the social networks. Determine who wants to see the ads and who does not.
  • With more users than some of the social networks (70 million users), how do you deal with the conflict?: Competition is for advertising dollars, also who engages the user.

I am very much not a fan of Slide. Their business model is what encourages that “bubble” atmosphere on the Social Web. It is my hope that they adopt their model and move away from pure advertising and spammy-methods of propogation.

Live Blogging the Web 2.0 Expo: Social Strategy for Business #web20expo

Picture 8.pngCharlene Li, and Josh Bernoff are two of my favorite Social Media Experts. They published “Groundswell”, a book I strongly suggest and recommend to anyone looking to utilize social technology in their business strategy. Here are my notes:

Key roles and their Groundswell objectives:

  • Research
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Support
  • Development

Charlene talking about specific applications that accomplish these objectives:

Del Monte community, invitation only, has conversations with their customers. Del Monte asks their customers questions like, “What does your dog eat for breakfast” and gets responses back from the customers. Then, more specific questions are asked, and a conversation is started. This information is hard to measure in a focus group, but can be gathered via a Groundswell.

Now Charlene’s talking about tampons. What, don’t like the subject? Neither do most people. P&G had this same problem, and created the social network, “Being Girl”. No branding of “P&G” on the site. In articles, adds things like, “Brought to you by Always pads”.

Brides.com: Allows the bride-to-be to create a count-down calendar on their Myspace page. Widget shows the countdown, and offers a challenge to get the widget. When a user clicks to get the widget, they go to brides.com to get the widget. With widgets like this, your fans are doing the selling for you.

Starbucks: Suggestion boxes. All suggestions are public, and can be voted by the community. Management talks back to the community and responds to their feedback!

Keys to success for pragmatists:

  • Start with your customers
  • Choose an objective you can measure
  • Line up executive backing
  • Romance the naysayers
  • Start small, think big

Pragmatists bring companies and the groundswell together. Objectives are the key to successful social strategy. Use POST to frame your strategy. Think big, but start small.

Live Blogging the Web 2.0 Expo: Comparing Social Platforms #web20exp

Picture 8.pngUnfortunately I only have a Flip which gives me just 30 minutes of storage so you’ll be able to see the first 30 minutes below. I’m currently watching “Comparing Social Platforms”, with Dave Morin, Senior Platform Manager for Facebook, Allen Hurff, SVP Engineering for Myspace, Jessica Alter, Dir. of Platform and Business Development for Bebo, Patrick Chanezon, Google OpenSocial Evangelist, and David Recordon, Open Platform Lead for Six Apart. It’s fascinating to see the leaders of all 4 areas, including a developer standpoint from Six Apart all talking about ways to improve the Social Graph.

I’ll continue from where the video left off:

Allen Hurff said a great point when it comes to focus on Platform Development: “I love developers, but I love users ten times more”. That’s a great point and something we need to remember, and not be too demanding on as developers. In the end it’s all about the users of our applications.

Dave Morin talked about the Causes application. If the user can’t get the message to the friends that they care about such a cause, that’s bad and needs to be taken care of. Facebook is trying to focus on this, while finding balance with Applications that perhaps aren’t as impacting to ensure they aren’t being spammy and user experience is protected.

Patrick Chanezon says Google prefers the term “organic growth” to “viral growth”. Dave Morin brought up that ultimately, creating the best product is the end goal. Those applications that just focus on Viral growth grow fast, but ultimately die out. In the end you want the best experience for the user.

Dave Morin: “A lot of the times we’ll see viral but no ‘social'”. Being able to see what your friends are doing with your application, how they interact together makes it social and not just viral.

Dave Morin: Social Commerce is the future of how people do business on the web. Working on a commerce engine for Facebook. He likes the applications that are doing virtual currencies (I agree).

David Recordon: Building applications has to be easy. Extensibility is important. It has to be easier than it is today – if more successful than today next year, technology still isn’t easy enough.


  • Matt from SocialThing: will there ever be a premium model with guaranteed uptime, extended support, etc.?: Myspace says they haven’t thought of it. Facebook says they are committed to their platform – says it’s a good point and also haven’t thought of it.
  • How liberal are platforms going to be in sharing data?: Six Apart is one of the creators of the ATOM standard – bloggers should own their content. Facebook is committed to enabling people to take data where they want to. What exactly does “data portability” mean? Dave Morin posed that question to OpenSocial… “data portability” might not be the right word for it – “privacy portability” might be a better term for it. “It’s all about the user – it’s not about technology.”
  • What are the thoughts on creating an even playing field for viral channels?: Myspace will have a hard time

In conclusion it looks like the theme for this was putting focus on the users in the end vision, not the application. I’ll upload the video in a minute if it isn’t showing yet.

Me at Web 2.0 Expo

Picture 8.pngI’ll be at Web 2.0 Expo starting tomorrow, April 22 through Friday, April 25. This, in my opinion, is one of the conferences to be at this year, as I really feel we’re getting to a tipping point towards the evolution of Social Networks. Expect to hear a lot about Enterprise 2.0, Future of Mobile, and of course, the future of Social Networks. I’ll do my best to live-blog what I can on the Stay N’ Alive blog, OpensocialNow.com, and FacebookAdvice.com. I’ll be bringing along my wife’s Flip digital video camera so maybe I’ll even get some good video while I’m out there.

I’ll be bringing several signed copies (by both me and Jason) of “I’m on Facebook–Now What???” with me, which, if you’re a blogger and can convince me why I should give you a free copy (I love giveaways to your audience if you have a good audience) come see me. Or, if you already have a copy of the book I’m happy to sign copies while I’m there. I’ll be posting my whereabouts on Twitter so you should be able to find me. Also, look for me at the O’Reilly booth on Wednesday around 3pm. I’ll be also promoting my upcoming book, FBML Essentials and would love to meet you!

If you want to follow where I am, again, there’s Twitter, or feel free to check out my schedule here. Also, add me on Crowdvine!