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Moving to Follow clarexu on Twitter.

Random fact: From April 2008 to April 2009, Twitter has seen a 1,298% increase in visitors, whereas Facebook has only seen a 217% increase by comparison (Source: Nielsen).

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Ever since all the major newspapers and The White House jumped on board, I’ve been wanting to open a Twitter account or two. I love new sources of information. Unfortunately, I am still lacking in the infrastructure department (AKA I don’t have a smartphone) so it would be no different than blogging and sharing links through Facebook from my home computer. If I am to tweet, I need to be mobile!

Speaking of smartphones, the Palm Pre was released on June 6th to modest fanfare. It’s not much of a serious contender against the iPhone, because it has so few apps and games available. However, the Pre does has some perks. The WebOS user interface allows multiple applications to run simultaneously using a virtual “deck of cards” metaphor. Also, the Pre is able to gather data streams from all your online accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, etc.) and compile a comprehensive contacts list, without duplicates [Synergy].

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Thought I’d share these paragraphs from a TIME article I just read:
How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live“.

Skeptics might wonder just how much subversion and wit is conveyable via 140-character updates. But in recent months Twitter users have begun to find a route around that limitation by employing Twitter as a pointing device instead of a communications channel: sharing links to longer articles, discussions, posts, videos — anything that lives behind a URL. Websites that once saw their traffic dominated by Google search queries are seeing a growing number of new visitors coming from “passed links” at social networks like Twitter and Facebook. This is what the naysayers fail to understand: it’s just as easy to use Twitter to spread the word about a brilliant 10,000-word New Yorker article as it is to spread the word about your Lucky Charms habit.

Put those three elements together — social networks, live searching and link-sharing — and you have a cocktail that poses what may amount to the most interesting alternative to Google’s near monopoly in searching. At its heart, Google’s system is built around the slow, anonymous accumulation of authority: pages rise to the top of Google’s search results according to, in part, how many links point to them, which tends to favor older pages that have had time to build an audience. That’s a fantastic solution for finding high-quality needles in the immense, spam-plagued haystack that is the contemporary Web. But it’s not a particularly useful solution for finding out what people are saying right now, the in-the-moment conversation that industry pioneer John Battelle calls the “super fresh” Web. Even in its toddlerhood, Twitter is a more efficient supplier of the super-fresh Web than Google. If you’re looking for interesting articles or sites devoted to Kobe Bryant, you search Google. If you’re looking for interesting comments from your extended social network about the three-pointer Kobe just made 30 seconds ago, you go to Twitter.

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P.S. Microsoft released their new decision-search engine called Bing, which organizes search results into relevant categories (like a guidebook) rather than displaying long series of individual links.

Yet another example of social media trumping traditional media (in both speed & accuracy) for the distribution of breaking news:

[Citizen Journalists Provided Glimpses of Mumbai Attacks via NYTimes]
At the peak of the violence, more than one message per second with the word “Mumbai” in it was being posted onto Twitter, a short-message service that has evolved from an oddity to a full-fledged news platform in just two years.

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Some news on the microblogging front:

[How Much Is Twitter Worth to Facebook? via NYTimes BITS]
Yahoo’s decision to pass on Facebook wasn’t quite as disastrous as its decision not to buy Google early in that company’s history. On the flip side, Yahoo, like lots of other Internet companies, has certainly done its share of dumb deals, like buying Geocities and Broadcast.com. Picking out a Google from a Geocities is more art than science. Now Facebook is presumably looking at Twitter much the same way — as a company with no revenue that nonetheless could be important. Twitter is surfing a growing wave of user behavior and engagement that is related to, but not the same as, how people use social networks, blogs, cellphones and other tools of self-expression. The wave may crest and Twitter may stumble. Then again, Facebook could find that Twitter by itself, or as part of a bigger company, could help shape a rival community of social sharing.

[Why Twitter Turned Down Facebook via NYTimes BITS]
Serious talks between the Facebook social network and the Twitter microblogging service started soon after Mr. Williams took over as chief executive on Oct. 16. Twitter reportedly rejected Facebook’s $500 million, mostly stock offer several weeks ago.

[Popularity or Income? Two Sites Fight It Out via NYTimes]
Twitter, a start-up company in San Francisco that has become a household name, is the leading microblogging outfit. At least three million people have tried its free service, according to TwitDir, a directory service. But Twitter has absolutely no revenue — not even ads. Yammer, a new and much smaller copycat aimed at corporate customers, has a mere 60,000 users. Unlike Twitter, its founders set out from the beginning to charge for its service. Just six weeks after its public debut, Yammer is already bringing in a modest amount of cash.

[Will Microblogging at Work Make You More Productive? via NYTimes BITS]
The central question on Twitter, “What are you doing?” is transformed on Yammer to, “What are you working on?” There are other features specific to the office. Unlike Twitter, which limits users to 140 characters, Yammer’s users can type as much as they want and reply to specific messages. They can attach photos, documents or videos.

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Social media networks are so nifty. For Twitter, choosing growth over revenue seems like a terrible idea during an economic recession — that company makes no profit! Yammer, AKA Twitter for businesses, was wise to set up a business model that charges for their services; it has real potential to increase productivity in the workplace.

Taking a sidestep from the leadership and financial disasters as of late, I read this intriguing article published earlier this month in the New York Times, called the “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy“. It offers great socio-anthropological insights into these new social awareness tools and delves into all aspects of their use. Some excerpts to follow.

On the aggregate phenomenon of Twitter/Facebook: “This is the paradox of ambient awareness. Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting. This was never before possible, because in the real world, no friend would bother to call you up and detail the sandwiches she was eating…”

On the formation of weak ties and the pro/cons thereof: “As I interviewed some of the most aggressively social people online…many maintained that their circle of true intimates, their very close friends and family, had not become bigger. Constant online contact had made those ties immeasurably richer, but it hadn’t actually increased the number of them; deep relationships are still predicated on face time, and there are only so many hours in the day for that. But where their sociality had truly exploded was in their…loose acquaintances, people they knew less well.”

Why maintain an online presence?: “It is easy to become unsettled by privacy-eroding aspects of awareness tools. But there is another — quite different — result of all this incessant updating: a culture of people who know much more about themselves. Many of the avid Twitterers, Flickrers and Facebook users I interviewed described an unexpected side-effect of constant self-disclosure. The act of stopping several times a day to observe what you’re feeling or thinking can become, after weeks and weeks, a sort of philosophical act. It’s like the Greek dictum to “know thyself,” or the therapeutic concept of mindfulness….Having an audience can make the self-reflection even more acute, since, as my interviewees noted, they’re trying to describe their activities in a way that is not only accurate but also interesting to others: the status update as a literary form.”

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Social media networks are slowly, but surely infiltrating our lives. There have already been situations in which social media trumps traditional media in both accuracy & efficiency for the distribution of breaking news and emergency information.

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“I’m not sure what we should call this group of apps. Presence updaters? Microbloggers? Social networkers? ” [Jaiku/Twitter/Facebook/Kyte/Plaxo – Pay Attention! via WebProNews]

“Personal publishing is more than just text, it spans all media…Sites like MySpace and Facebook are better bigger than blogging sites because they enable people to connect, communicate and share with each other in richer and easier ways than blogging does.”
[Why Facebook is Bigger Than Blogging via 25hoursaday]

Social media networks take advantage of and cleverly fulfill the human need to communicate. At the moment, the only problem is that there are so many options – these social media websites tend to have distinct functions – that your online presence is doomed to be fragmented. You’d get social-media-overload from trying to maintain accounts on WordPress and Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Dopplr, PlaceShout, MySpace, Jaiku or any combination of the slew of online applications available for communication, collaboration, multimedia, and entertainment. The other problem would be all of your friends’ updates saturating your mailbox or friend-feed.

“At what point do we finally peak and have some universal social media dashboard?…The Facebook news feed comes closest, but it only highlights some of the updates even from people I want to follow closely.” [To Twitter or Not to Twitter? via WebProNews]

“One day, I can imagine Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft offering full search/social/traditional media advertising packages that pull all of these things under one roof – a managed campaign offering.” [Microblogging: What Is It Good For? via WebProNews ]

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What we need next is something to organize all these different applications in one place. Facebook has the potential to become that all-encompassing social media network that will aggregate and sieve through everything. I suspect that in the future everyone will be connected to the internet 24/7, which by then, will be massively mobile social media network feeding us updates about people and events happening around the world…in effect, feeding us reality. (At least, that’s what I thought, before the layout changed and I was no longer able to find anything I wanted to access! Darn you, Mark Zuckerberg.)

We will be constantly connected to each other. Together we will form so many intersecting points in a politico-econo-socio-cultural web. The datastream will be instantaneous, perpetual and unbearable unless we are able to effectively collect & filter out all the noise. Something infinitely better than Facebook is necessary; there stands an incredible amount of profit for whomever can come up with the next best social news feed.

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Monday, September 22, 2008
Dow Falls More Than 370 Points Amid Bailout Skepticism
Stocks fell sharply and oil prices spiked, closing up more than $16 a barrel, as a battle seemed to be shaping up in Washington over the details of the biggest government bailout in history. The dollar also slid against the euro.
[via the NYT]

Still worried about the 700 billion dollar bailout plan, which now includes foreign banks. There’s a standoff in Congress. Take your time, guys, because that’s an incredible price-tag.

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