I often think to myself: “what did I do before Twitter when I’m bored?”
The truth is, the 140 characters of time wasting are great to keep you busy and entertained however I can’t help but find complete disdain for the sins performed on Twitter. I will now demonstrate these sins with my own examples:
Not what I expected from my Friday @ Grand Central Airport instagram.com/p/Zr-vsFy1Jo/
— Saul Kropman (@saulkza) May 24, 2013
This was me posting a picture of spending a Friday in a small plane. Why… I want to look awesome.
On the 28th of April 2013, Apple will celebrate 10 years of iTunes. Since the humble beginnings of this online music concept, iTunes has blossomed into the first successful commercial online music store with its 99cents a song deal. Its success was intrinsically linked to the then new Apple iPod. Today it remains the biggest online music store, a full 10 years later.
The Onion news took a bit of a satirical view on the 10 years of iTunes:
Facebook’s update to timeline angered quite a few people out there – but now Twitter is following suit with a similiar design that shows of your history of tweets combined with your photos, and a more prominent “header photo”. This new look is meant to give a better impression of a user’s overall profile compared to the previous text heavy design.
The update is not web only – it is being rolled out to Twitter‘s own mobile clients to iPhone, iPad and Android. Photos also appear in the tweet timeline on all of these platforms, which makes us wonder about bandwidth usage. Users can swipe between these photos left and right, just like Facebook’s app. Users can still specify their background images as well, but this wont show up on mobile client apps.
You can go change your header image right now, but some prominent accounts have already switched on the new profile view.
After using Facebook for a few years, it is pretty tough to keep track of all the web services that use your Facebook details. MyPermissions is a great way to quickly see which apps have access to your Facebook profile – and for most users, the list is pretty scary. Remember that odd app within Facebook you used a few years ago? Remember all the sites for which you have used your Facebook login details instead of manually registering? Yes, they still have your details.
So how do you see what has access to your details? MyPermission has two options – you can scan your apps using an iPhone app, or through the web browser extension. Simply head over to MyPermissions.com, and choose your poison. After running this, I found a list of more than 50 Facebook apps which have access to my details, and more than 20 that can access my Twitter profile. There are plenty more social networks that it can scan for. Even if you think you are pretty stingy in doling out your social network details, you might be surprised at the results: (more…)
In a somewhat expected move, Posterous today announced that they have been bought by Twitter. The company statements make it look like Twitter is looking to grab the talent at Posterous, to help them work “on several key initiatives that will make Twitter even better.”
Posterous, a company started in 2008, is not necessarily seen playing in the same space as Twitter, and is not necessarily seen as a micro-blogging service like Twitter. While very simple in design, users are still free to blog longer posts, despite also being referred to as a microblogging platform. But Posterous is very much focussed on people blogging from their mobile phones, very much like Twitter. Posterous is known for the many ways a user can blog while on the move, so it might be something Twitter is looking at, despite Twitter becoming quite ubiquitous across new phones.
Posterous founder Sachin Argawal had the following statement: “The opportunities in front of Twitter are exciting, and we couldn’t be happier about bringing our team’s expertise to a product that reaches hundreds of millions of users around the globe. Plus, the people at Twitter are genuinely nice folks who share our vision for making sharing simpler.”
Existing Posterous users can keep using their accounts, and they will receive “ample notice” if they should expect any changes. The biggest question now is rather what Twitter is planning – could it mean an alternative platform for people who want to tweet longer messages?
What do you think Twitter stands to gain from their Posterous purchase?
Those of us who use Twitter always welcome changes that improves the interface, while also making it easier to connect with like-minded individuals. So a few hours ago, Twitter rolled out its latest major redesign of their website, as well as brand new Android and iPhone apps. All in all, a pretty well planned execution by the microblogging service.
So what is new? The navigation has been simplified with 4 major buttons – Home, Connect, Discover and Me. If you are already a Twitter user these buttons are not a major change from the previous version, but it does contain a few great enhancements. For example “connect” (which has the familiar @ reply symbol) now also houses things like people who retweet you and new followers, not just mentions of your name as in the past. If you only want to see your mentions, there is still a button for that under Connect.
Traffic Map, a new user-generated online map of Joburg’s roads, has ambitions to change the way the city’s residents commute. Using information gathered from social networks to chart an unprecedented, real-time overview of traffic incidents throughout the city and surrounds.
Traffic Map uses Google Maps software to identify the best routes for increasingly frustrated commuters, collating information sourced from some of the city’s primary traffic monitors, such as PigSpotter, YFM Traffic and Traffic SA. Incidents reported by these sources via Twitter are identified, located and plotted on the map interface, providing users with a dynamic bird’s-eye view of the streets in and around the city.
“Social networks are a mine of real-time information, which can be of exceptional benefit provided that it’s presented in a legible, digestible format,” says Gary Meyer, co-owner of Slash301. “Our aim with Traffic Map was to make this information as tangible and relevant as possible, and to provide a one-stop solution for users looking to ease the hassle and frustration of their daily commute.”
Disclaimer: I am the founder of Tweekly.fm, a service that automatically sends an update of your top artists for the week to Twitter and Facebook.
Recently, Spotify (with Sean Parker’s help) got engaged to Facebook. In short, if your Facebook and Spotify accounts are connected, you will see your friends listening to music in the new ‘ticker’ as they are listening to it. A lot of people have wondered, ‘Is this useful?’, ‘Why would I want to see John listening to Backstreet Boys?’.
Before I answer that. A little background. I started Tweekly.fm in Januray of 2009. The goal was simple. I wanted to make a twitter app. I was (and still am) an avid last.fm user, so I thought it would be great to automatically share your music tastes from last.fm to twitter. At that time #musicmonday was still big. People were sharing their music tastes on Twitter every monday. It was great! Where is it now? And what happened?
The biggest culprit is Twitter’s trending algorithm. They changed it to display only novel topics. In other words, because #mm was trending every monday, it wasn’t exactly novel each time. But why didn’t people continue sharing their music tastes despite this? There was no real return. During 2009 there was also quite a rise in websites that offered the ability to tweet your songs to Twitter. I wrote a blog post on this quite a while ago in April of 2010. It was an exciting arena, one in which Tweekly.fm was competing in as well. Of those sites in that blogpost (besides Tweekly.fm), only tweetmysong are above 450 000 in alexa rankings, and blip.fm remaining at the top (because of its built-in network effects). In short, the small ‘sector’ kinda died. Nobody took the effort to tweet a song they are listening to, because not a lot of people took the effort to listen to it. In other words, little return for both people. If someone shares a song with me, it works better if there is context. For me to like the song, there are two big prerequisites: If it is a good friend, who knows my music tastes, I will absorb the effort to listen to the song. However if it is an artist (and genre) I’ve never heard of, I still have to make up my mind about, because my friend shared it with me, and expects some return. In other words, I have to make an effort to form an opinion on the song. “Hey Simon! What did you think of Portugal. The Man?”, “Uh. It is great. I kinda liked the jazzy sections in the song New Orleans”.
If it is from a ‘musical’ stranger, the only context I have is if the person elaborates on the song. “Listen to Nero – Innocence. Epic dubstep in every way”. Now I know it is dubstep and if I am a fan, I would be more willing to accept the opportunity cost of taking the time to listen to it. However, for the person who shared the song, they still need a return. If I liked the song, I must still do more effort to tell the person that I liked it, and once again the interaction rate drops off heavily.
Why is Tweekly.fm still growing? It is automatic and it has context. There is no effort on part of the listener. They just have to consume their music and it will be shared each week to Twitter. The second factor that Tweekly.fm does to a certain degree is context. 3 artists are shared in the update. This means that if people see one artist they like in the tweet, they will be more inclined to click on it. If there are 2 known artists and one unknown artist, they will be even more likely to click on it.
So why is Spotify and Facebook on the right track? Music sharing works best when it is automatic, because it takes no effort on behalf of person sharing the music. They thus expect little, if nothing in return. Any comments on the artists you listened to is as they would say in marketing terms: a satisfying experience. Same goes for the consumer. They have no expectation to comment on the artists you share, but will be delighted if they find they share music tastes in common.
However, where their system fails, is music discovery. The only context being employed is the user listening to the music. If you know him to listen to cool electronic music tracks, you will be inclined to find out more AS they are listening to it. If you follow what they are listening to, you might pick up a pattern and then be inclined to look up the tracks yourself (“ooh, I know that song! oooh, I know that one as well! Oooh, I better check this one out, I don’t know it”)… But this I feel, is perhaps way too much effort. It beats the purpose of automatic sharing.
Automatic sharing allows serendipitous behaviour to arise, because of the non-effort to share it. In Facebook’s case, it doesn’t clog up the stream, because it occurs in the ticker. That is great. However, if they really want to ramp up music discovery, they need to use music recommendations to explain the context of songs that people are sharing. If Robert Scoble is listening to bluegrass band that I’ve haven’t heard, the system should preferably show context while he is listening to it. Like when Last.fm recommends new artists, they recommend it based on your current library of artists. In other words, it should preferably match up the closest artist I have listened, while also providing other information (such as genre and current position in world charts for example). This way, I can immediately discern context when music is automatically shared.
Who should be doing this? Last.fm. They have the resources and data available to do this. I can already see what my ‘friends’ on there are listening to, but there is no context. They know what I’ve listened to, they should just bring it together. I wrote a script the other day to test this. Of my 87 friends on last.fm, it returned to me the following dataset:
Of my friends who listened to music the current week and based on last.fm’s current music recommendations to me, I should listen to:
[Beirut] => 4 [Skrillex] => 2 [Björk] => 2 [Gold Panda] => 1 [The Wombats] => 1 [Band of Skulls] => 1 [Cut Copy] => 1 [Röyksopp] => 1 [St. Vincent] => 1 [Cults] => 1
It is very slow, because I have to make several API calls, so it is not available for testing (I might upload it github later). So in other words, what the above code says: “Of the artists we recommend you listen to, your friends listened to Beirut, Skrillex, Bjork, Gold Panda, Wombats, Band of Skulls, Cut Copy, Royksopp, St Vincent and the Cults this week”.
So: What it boils down to. Facebook and Spotify are on the right track. Music sharing works best when it is done ‘frictionlessly’, but now it just needs more context. I hope Last.fm gets there before them, but maybe it is just because I am a bit biased.