Posts Tagged: Google


21
Aug 11

Rethinking Blogging in Light of G+

Initially, I was excited about G+ as an alternative to Facebook, which I mostly boycott because of their horrid ToS and Privacy Policy.  I was an early Twitter user (March 2007) and it’s still useful for broadcasting brief bulletins and updates, for asking questions of your network, etc., but there are times you want to write a little more than 140 characters or share a picture or video and you want it to be convenient for the reader to see your content.

fleep: Thinking twitter is a little creepy and perhaps addictive.. who are all these people and why do I care what they are doing? 09:54 PM March 11, 2007 from web 

When G+ rolled out, I thought YAY finally a useful alternative to Facebook!  I happily circled all my friends and started meeting new people to circle and all was happy in G+ land – until I got suspended for not using my real name.  Nevermind that I’ve been using Gmail for as long as it’s been around and have always had the same name on my account and the plethora of other Google services I use, and the most ironic of all – that I use Fleep Tuque on the net primarily because it’s unique and ranks higher on Google search!

Google search for “Fleep Tuque” are all hits about me, whereas
searching for “Chris Collins” brings up a zillion people who aren’t me.

I’ve written quite a bit on G+ about why pseudonymity should be allowed since my account was reinstated, but I’ve found myself hesitant to post on high profile threads or controversial threads in the worry that my account may be suspended or banned again, and that experience has made me re-think participation on networks where the value I create is primarily hosted on someone else’s site.  Just like with Second Life, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating and sharing and chatting without thinking of the long term consequences of all your stuff being hosted on someone else’s service.  When they decide to shut down the product or that they suddenly don’t like your name, then what?

My blog, on the other hand, has been around since 2005 – I discovered my first post when re-doing my theme this weekend – and I have backups of all its content.  If Dreamhost goes out of business tomorrow, I’ve got all my content backed up in the cloud and on physical media.  I’m not at the mercy of Google or anyone else to decide that after 6 years of using a service, my name is no longer valid, or the content I post doesn’t meet their standards.

So, for the next while, I think I’ll be creating all my content here and sharing links to it on other services instead of creating content elsewhere and hoping my name or content passes muster based on someone else’s criteria.

Maybe you should re-think your dusty blog too?  😉


1
Nov 09

Twitter Lists, Google Wave, & Verizon’s Droid Phone

Twitter Lists

Twitter recently added the ability to categorize the people you follow into “Lists”, with quick links on your right sidebar to the status updates of all the people in that category.  Your lists can be public or private, with private lists only visible to you, and other people can follow your lists en masse or see the individual people you’ve added.

You can check out my Twitter lists to see if any of them interest you (though I’m not done adding people yet!).

TheNextWeb has a “how-to” guide if you’re not sure how Twitter Lists work, and so far it seems like it’s working out pretty well for me, despite the fact I’ve only got some small percentage of the people I follow categorized. Wow, talk about tedious work to add people!  New twitter users won’t have this problem since they can add folks to lists as they go along, but for those of us who have been around a while, this is a major chore.  I’m trying to do a few more each time I sit down at the PC, but it’s kind of slow going.

Still, the functionality seems worth the effort, since this gives you an easy way to “check in” with different categories or communities of people you follow, much like we’ve been able to do with 3rd party apps like Groups on TweetDeck.  As I posted to Twitter, I’m creating lists based on what’s most useful for _me_, not with the intention of creating a great list for someone else to follow, though if someone else finds a list of mine useful, more power to them.

Besides the obvious, I see a few other good or interesting uses for Twitter Lists:

  • Vanity list checking: It may be completely vain on my part, but I’m finding it interesting to see how people categorize my tweets and what tags they use to describe me when they put me on a list.  Many of them are obvious like “secondlife” or “education” but some of them have been surprising.  It’s also another example of how YOU are not always in control of your “brand” or your identity on the web.  What if someone put me on a list called “totaljerks” or something?
  • Making lists for your followers, instead of for yourself. I’ve seen some folks making lists called “recommended” or “moversandshakers” where it seems like people are aggregating lists less for their own consumption and more to help their followers find OTHERS to follow.  If that makes sense.  I definitely would be more judicious in my choices if I made a “recommended tweeters” list than I have been with the lists I’ve created so far, so perhaps curating a good list will become a useful Twitter skill.  I think I might try that once I get through the first phase of adding folks to lists.
  • Lists as another metric of quality. I don’t think this is very useful yet, as most established twitterers are probably, like me, still in the process of getting all their followers categorized.  But once lists are being used ubiquitously (and I think they will be), this feature adds a new metric to judge the quality of a tweeter before you add them.  Now, in addition to their profile and number of people they follow/follow them, you can also see how many people took the time to add them to a list, and what kinds of tags they use to describe them.   Hopefully this will be a less game-able metric than sheer numbers of followers, but I guess we’ll see.
  • Lists will be great for newbie Twitterers. I hope lists will help people new to Twitter get engaged with communities of interest more quickly than before.  If I introduce someone to Twitter and I know they also dig Second Life, I can point to that list as a great starting point.   They can either follow the whole list, or sort through it to pick and choose individual people to follow.
  • As a corollary, raiding your friends’ lists for new people to follow just got a whole lot easier since you can follow people only from the communities you’re most interested in.

My biggest complaint, other than not having an easy way to add multiple people to a list quickly, is that Twitter perversely orders your lists in the REVERSE order you created them, so my most frequently used lists are at the bottom rather than the top.  I hope they fix that little issue quickly.

Also, has anyone come across any iPod/iPhone apps that include list functionality yet?  It looks like Tweetie2, my favorite Twitter app, doesn’t do that yet.

Other than those complaints, I’d say Twitter Lists is two thumbs up.  Yay for tools that help break big info streams down into more manageable chunks!

Google Wave

Wish I could offer the same enthusiasm about Google Wave, touted as an alternative to email, but I must say my initial experience is “less than impressed”.  (And no, I don’t have any invites to give yet, I’ll let you know as soon as I do!)

I know this is still a beta service (what google service isn’t in perpetual beta?) but I guess I expected something more.. intuitive? easy? fast? useful?    At least on my machine, Google Wave is very slow to load everything – contact lists, inbox, and especially the content of the wave.   I even get such terrible typing lag when I try to make a reply that it sometimes takes 3 or 4 seconds for what I’ve typed to show up on the screen.  Reminds me of the 1200 baud modem days, waiting for things to appear.

Other sundry complaints:   Navigating through a wave is kind of tedious, I can’t tell what I’ve already seen and what’s new.  The scroll bar dealie on the right confuses me, the arrows at the top and bottom don’t actually jump you to the top or bottom of the wave.  Playback on a big wave either doesn’t work at all or goes very slowly and I can’t figure out how to speed it up (plus it seems to crash FF from time to time).  In general, I just can’t figure out why I would use this instead of email..?

I’ll give it some time and keep playing.   As I said, I know it’s early days for Wave, so perhaps I’ll see more utility when it’s more useable from a lag/organization standpoint.  But first impressions can be tough to shake and my first impression of Wave is it’s doing the opposite of Twitter Lists, instead of making big info streams more manageable, it seems to turn manageable email chunks into one big info stream.  Not a fan yet.

Verizon’s Droid Phone

Ok, I lied, I haven’t actually gotten my hands on one yet, even though @tom_streeter had one in the office last week, I was too darned busy at work to pester him about it.

For those of us who are on Verizon’s network, and thus unable to get an iPhone (insert major annoyance here), we’ve been waiting and waiting for a smartphone alternative to the iPhone and the web chatter says the Motorola Droid is Verizon’s first possible competitor.    CNet has the best review I’ve seen so far, and several Cincinnati area tweeters were given a first look through a Verizon promotion #droiddoescincy so you can see some real people reviews.

Me, I’m definitely keep an eye on it, but I don’t want “the next best thing” to an iPhone.  I want something equal to or better than an iPhone, otherwise, I think I’ve got most bases covered between my current phone and the iPod Touch I recently picked up.

So, uh, Tom, if you still have it next week, can I take a peek?  🙂


9
Jul 08

Google’s “Lively” Virtual Chatroom

Yesterday Google released a 3D virtual chatroom application called Lively that can be embedded into a webpage. A bunch of folks from the Second Life community headed over to the Linden Lab chatroom to check it out and I grabbed about a minute of machinima to give a sense of the visuals.

At the moment it isn’t Mac compatible and I couldn’t get it to work in my Firefox 3 browser at all. On IE7, it said “Joining…” for about 5 minutes before my avatar appeared, but eventually I was able to see and communicate with the others in the room.

My first impression is that this is very similar to IMVU, it’s a 3D chatroom with some options to “decorate” the space, but doesn’t appear to support any user generated content or even import Sketch-Up objects, which is surprising since that’s a Google product. The range of avatar choices is very limited and I didn’t see options for user customization there, either, though I assume that will change since all the research points to avatar customization as a key to engagement, immersion, and “stickiness” for virtual worlds.

On the plus side, these lightweight web-based applications only highlight the growth of 3D spaces online and it’s a nice transition point for people to get their feet wet with virtual spaces without having to download, install, and run something as resource intensive as Second Life. It was also easy to embed a YouTube video on a player in the room for a shared media experience, and decorating the space with the given inventory seemed fairly simple.

I can’t see any 3D virtual space impacting education if there aren’t options for instructors and students to create their own content, but I’d guess that will be an upcoming feature when they tie Lively to the Sketch Up object repository.

Certainly an interesting development, and I’m surprised Google was able to keep this under wraps so tightly! The rumor mills were going back in September of last year, but otherwise not a hint until it was released – impressive!

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