Hopefully not an idle threat…

There’s too much going on. I must start blogging again. I’ve refreshed the template here to be a little more flexible and I’m going to start bringing over some of the content I’ve put into Facebook and elsewhere soon.

But… I’ve said this before and not followed through. We’ll see.

Lebkowsky on the Economist article on SocNets

Jon Lebkowsky has written a response to The Economist’s article on Social Networks, Everywhere and Nowhere on the Social Web Strategies blog. Money quote:

For months I’ve been saying that Facebook is the next AOL – a gated community that works for a while, but ultimately can’t be open enough to sustain prominence. This is probably true of MySpace, too… at the moment, both systems are growing and capturing mindshare… will this last?

Twitter Web Traffic Stats

The nice folks at Twitter have started to publish a bit more information than has been available about their usage. Today Biz wrote a post on the Twitter blog about Twitter Web Traffic Around the World which is very interesting.

A couple of interesting things pop out at first glance. First of all, 60% of (web) traffic is non-US in origin. This might seem like a high number, but when we compare that figure to published stats from sites like Facebook, Twitter has a relatively lower number of international users. Secondly, and most interestingly to me, if you eyeball the percentages in terms of the population of each of the “international” countries represented in the top 10, I imagine that Canada would jump right to the top of the list.

Considering that this is just an assessment of web traffic, not overall traffic, I don’t think we can draw any conclusions from that relative to mobile usage in Canada (usually said to be very low relative to European countries and others), but unless Twitter’s mobile roots are in fact insignificant compared to web usage, the numbers do suggest that things aren’t quite as bad in Canada as most of the other stats portray.

Shel Israel on Twitter

Late last week Shel Israel wrote an An Open Letter to the Twitter Guys. He’s right on, and his post stands in stark contrast to the chatter a couple of weeks ago that Twitter proves that the only important thing is to aggregate users – leaving aside a biz plan for later.

No one seems to care about mobile Twitter (which seems insane to me), but my 250/week limit was reached in the early evening today – Tuesday. The limit is simply a cost-cutting measure by a company bleeding money on every tweet. The problem for Twitter is that I can easily defect – everyone I get messages from (more or less) is on Facebook, and I can subscribe to their status updates on my mobile – half the time they come from Twitter anyhow.

Part of the problem may be that US companies are backed by US VC – and so they focus primarily on US adoption and usage. The social networking world in general makes that a very dangerous position to take – social network adoption rates are generally lower in the US than most other “rich” countries. A company that is primarily concerned with US results for a US exit will throw the rest of us under the bus pretty quickly.

Problems in the world of Facebook Apps

Alec Saunders has written a great post about the increasing backlash Facebook App developers are facing recently: F8ce the music. I know for my part I have been drastically reducing my adds of Facebook apps and have removed and blocked ones that don’t offer me something fun or interesting in a way that I consider fair or ethical.

Alec also points out that in the dev forums, “suggestions that developers build useful or richer applications are scoffed at by those who view Facebook as solely an entertainment platform for college students.” In fact this may point to the most important problem with the app platform at this time. Developers with that attitude are completely missing the boat. They don’t understand Facebook, the value proposition that it represents, and are ignorant of the demographics of Facebook. The idea that Facebook is just or even primarily for college students is factually incorrect, and a developer who assumes that to be the case will and should fail.

The Big Guns and Data Portability

More from TechCrunch today as they have posted that Facebook, Google and Plaxo have joined the DataPortability Workgroup. Not quite sure what impact this will have, but it’s definitely worth following.

Yahoo’s Life – Already Irrelevant?

At the huge CES event in Las Vegas yesterday Yahoo revealed further information about their next step into social networks. Michael Arrington has a good overview: Here Comes Yahoo Live, I Mean Yahoo Life. Basically it’s some kind of mashup between Yahoo Mail and Maps with some third-party widget exposure/access built in.

The problem for Yahoo, as far as I can tell, is that piecemeal things like this are simply not comprehensive enough for anyone to really take them seriously. Yahoo already has a lot of great elements that it could leverage into a social media strategy, and the fact that they aren’t even at the table (as far as anyone can tell) indicates simply that Yahoo is either a) hedging their bets far more than they should, or b) too siloed an organization to pull its own pieces together effectively. Either way, they won’t likely achieve a whole lot until they solve one problem or the other.

In other words, Flickr is smaller than Facebook and MySpace, but nevertheless it is still one of the best-of-breed social networks on the web, and until Yahoo can demonstrate that it can (and will) marshal its own properties, their social network strategy is likely to be a disappointment.

Promoting open standards for personal data

Worth your attention: DataPortability.org – Share and remix data using open standards. Scoble has been publicly testing the portability of Facebook data (relevant posts: Facebook disabled my account, Unintended advantages, and What I was using…) in the past day and (of course) found the results to be less than ideal. I have a feeling that data portability is going to be one of the important issues of 2008. Finally.

A good Facebook defection post

Ben Brown has written a good post about his defection from Facebook: If all your friends jumped off of a bridge… More importantly, in the post he describes a different kind of social network, and makes a good case for building an internet based on different kinds of principles than Facebook or any other MegaMart-style site is founded upon.

“Friending” and human beings

There’s an interesting article in the NYTimes today about the concept of “friends” and social networks: Friending, Ancient or Otherwise. The suggestion in the article is that one of the reasons humans respond so well to online social networks is that they tap into ancient communication and community-forming patterns. I have been writing the same thing about older-style online community for years now (which reminds me, I should collect some of that writing and post it here).