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Category: YASNS

June 16, 2006

Vox: It's great! It's crap!

davextreme has posted his early review of the Vox service, and seeing as I got my invite from him I thought I should follow with a review of my own. I agree with what davextreme says -- Vox looks great, has great features, but I won't say more because I can't actually use them yet as I'm still stuck in a "Starter level" account. So, instead I'll talk about how "starter level" accounts + a brand new service is a crack-smoking way to run a beta.

A "Starter level" account only lets you leave comments and add friends. Vox doesn't have many users with full accounts and most of them are prominent bloggers and SixApart employees. Put the two together and you get a beta experience that consists of adding a bunch of SixApart employees to your neighborhood and watching them have a conversation about their family tree -- you can comment if you like. As a beta user, it just feels creepy.

If Vox wanted to impress me, it would have to demonstrate that it is as capable as LiveJournal in building and supporting communities. The only impression right now is that it's a great tool for being a wallflower in the SixApart corporate community. Wait to give out "starter level" accounts when people can at least lurk in their own communities.

June 29, 2005

Yahoo's retort to my previous post

A day after I posted about Google's personalized search launch, I now find myself demo-ing Yahoo's "My Web 2.0 BETA"* (the logo for which tips its hat to the Flickr folks).

In terms of features, Yahoo's response is to see Google's personalization + search history and add in social bookmarking (del.icio.us-like) and social networks (Yahoo 360). This is an impressive array of functionality, but does an impressive feature list make for an impressive experience? Review in the extended.

Continue reading "Yahoo's retort to my previous post" »

August 31, 2004

Bye Friendster account?

I'm thinking of deleting my Friendster account. My main reason is that it's served zero purpose for me thus far, they also just fired an employee for blogging/commenting about something that was already public. I wish I could say that I would be canceling to defend her right, but really, the event is just a reminder how irrelevant Friendster is (see their desperate pleas for attention). Also, in response, people have been posting account cancellation links, which overcomes my laziness to do something I should have done awhile ago.

I placed a question mark on the post title as I offer this as a last chance for anyone to convince me why I should remain on Friendster. Will you lose some valuable Friendster-rank? Will it sadden you to have one less testimonial? BTW - I'm keeping my Orkut account for now, as it would no longer be redundant.

Update: "Friendster account is dead, okay?" No one rose to the defense of Friendster (not really surprising), so the account is now dead. Don't be too surprised if you start see some of your old testimonials showing up on orkut, as I'm not creative enough to write new ones.

August 18, 2004

Social networking not dead?

Awhile back I wrote a never-posted entry entitled, "Die Social Networks, Die!" In it I ranted about how bad the current social networking sites are, and how their craptastic offerings may be so spectacular so as to delay the adoption of social networking technologies in the mainstream (i.e. when a good social networking service finally did come along, it would get no traction due to the burnout suffered at the hands of Orkut and Friendster).

I'm glad I didn't post that, because I think I was wrong. The site that's been winning me over, ever so slowly, is Flickr. It's not a social networking site, per se. I think it wanted to be in the beginning, if my vague memories from many months ago serve correct.

To me, social networking is like wireless. Wireless attracts me to a coffee shop, but my main purpose is to buy coffee, and the coffee better be good, and the wireless better be free. When Flickr initially looked to me like an flashy social networking app with photo-sharing thrown in, it wasn't that interesting to me, because the social networking seemed more important than the photo management.

Now, however, they've worked really hard on making the photo management work really well with both cameraphones as well as my desktop. According to bp the cameraphone integration is one of the best out there, and my experiences with the Windows Explorer integration have been great as well. They've also just released a new Organizr, which rivals desktop photo organizers, and they are part of the new wave of organizers (del.icio.us, gmail) that uses tagging instead of folders. Another great feature is that they've made it possible to incorporate flickr photos directly into your blog.

There are disadvantages of course. I publish far too many photos for Flickr's free quota, and you can't publish high-quality versions of the photos, but neither or these is truly the aim. Flickr creates a new opportunity for building a shared visual narrative with friends or broader community, similar to how LiveJournal's friends list creates a shared, journaling community.

Speaking of LJ (which previously had been my only example of a good social networking site): LJ publishes your friends list as FOAF (http://livejournal.com/users/username/data/foaf). Combine that with Flickr's Web API and you could have a great combined, distributed service with both journaling and photo-sharing. In the near future these Web applications can start blurring the borders and create a great, distributed, social networking service.

July 2, 2004

I have a policy that Friendster sucks

I should've read last months Wired more closely, I missed this gem:

Moore's buddy Matt Chisholm chimes in to tell me about a similar hack, a JavaScript app he wrote with Moore that works on Friendster. It mines for information about anyone who looks at his profile and clicks through to his Web site. "I get their user ID, email address, age, plus their full name. Neither their full name nor their email is ever supposed to be revealed," he says.

Notified of the security holes Moore and Chisholm exploit, Friendster rep Lisa Kopp insists, "We have a policy that we are not being hacked." When I explain that, policy or no, they are being hacked, she says, "Security isn't a priority for us. We're mostly focused on making the site go faster."


(via kottke)

April 27, 2004

Orkut map

I'm sure stuff like this will cause another privacy stir, but you can get a geographical map of your friend network on Orkut. - Here's mine (red is friend, blue is friend-of-friend)

My map points how my Boston and Virginia friends aren't really represented at all; just a big gob of people in SF. Although it would be nice for these to fill in, the fact is that orkut has become rather boring, and I sign in about once a month nowadays (the same with Friendster).

meta points to dodgeball as an example of social network service that has some potential. Dodgeball lets you use SMS to announce to your social network where you currently are, which is nice at night when you're bar hopping. Having seen it in action, though, I'm willing to bet that it will go the way of the dodo; it's simply too annoying to be receiving text messages all the time and it's not clear to me that a cellphone has a rich enough of a UI to make it not annoying.

(via joi ito)

January 31, 2004

Last thoughts on Orkut

As my confinement nears an end, and also as orkut has already burned up its entertainment value for me (copying and pasting from Friendster), here are my final thoughts. These were actually posted on danah boyd's blog, but might as well include them here. Although I've posted the comments here (slightly modified) as if there were a conversation, it's actually me posting to three separate threads of hers linked to below, but I've included/summarized her statements so that mine make a little more sense. If you read this, then you should probably read danah's full posts, as she's far more intelligent than me on these issues, and she's got a bigger orkut network. Also, I had to take her comments out of context in order to put mine in context.

apophenia: venting my contempt for orkut

danah:2) Are trustworthy, cool, and sexy the only ways that i might classify my friends? (Even Orkut lists a lot more in his definition of self.) And since when can i rate the people that i know based on this kind of metric
...trim...
3) Explain to me why one must be a friend to be a fan of someone? The role of fan is inherently a power differential, not an equalizer. (Don't get me wrong: on Orkut, there's definitely pressure to reciprocate.) The people that i'm a fan of are not my friends; they're idols; they're people that i read on the interweb but do not know.

It is sooo weird to read which of my friends are a fan of me. Does that mean that the rest are only following social custom in linking to me? Does that mean that they don't really respect me? [Or does it mean, like it means to me, that it's too bloody weird to consider checking off that fan bit?]...

Me: The thing I don't get about the whole ratings system is that there is no reason why you shouldn't give all your friends maximum points, and you will give them high ratings, because they're your friends. It's like a bad implementation of Cory Doctorow's Whuffie -- but I'm not sure that I would want good implementation either unless that act of rating was implicit in some other action. Technorati ranking, for example, feels like a good system, even though it's one-dimensional, because my explicit action is one of linking, not rating. It also has more credibility than your # of friends, because it indicates that, not only do I know you, but I listen to what you have to say.

And fans? At first it seemed kinda of interesting, as well as appropriate for say someone like danah, or Joi, or Orkut, or anybody else that's prominent enough in a community. But for the other 99% of the people on orkut that spend their lives living below the radar, it comes across as weird, awkward, and stalker-ish: "Hi, you have a not-so-secret admirer."

apophenia: orkut pissyness, round 2

danah: What i'm fundamentally frustrated with is the fact that it does not go to the next level. It's more a slight variation on the rest. Only, with more explicit ratings of friends.

me: [trim] Personally, I don't think it will become useful for me until they operate seamlessly through my homepage. My homepage already has my resume, links to all of my friend's that have homepages, and all the "about me" that I care to share. The only features that Friendster et. al seem to add a way to link to friends that don't have homepages, a bunch of empty fields to fill in, and a relatively easy-to-use interface on top of that. I'm not sure these "features" outweigh the cost of the repetitive profile and network maintenance that YASN [yet-another-social-network] incurs.

It seems to me that sites like LiveJournal are infinitely more useful as a social networking service, and provide a compelling enough set of features that I would actually visit on a daily basis. It has a notion of friends (and allows it to be asymmetric in a non-awkward way), strong communication links within your friends circle, and discussion communities.

So, I, for one, believe the "next level" will be when we decentralize the social networks back into people's homepages, be it FOAF, LiveJournal/Xanga adding testimonials and new search features, a LiveJournal/Xanga/Friendster/TypePad/Movable Type/Tribe/Orkut/LinkedIn federation, or whatever technology comes along. Note that this lively discussion popped up here, on your homepage, not on your Orkut/Friendster/Tribe page. [ed: on second thought, decentralization seems to be the "next next level." Simply moving the social networks back onto people's personal Web space seems like a leap in itself.]

apophenia: what is beta in the context of social software?

Me: I think in the context of social software:
beta = not making any money
or,
beta = business plan, please

January 24, 2004

orkut

I had meta invite me in b/c I was curious. I'm also bed-ridden and am in need of any sort of activity that relieves my boredom. Orkut seems like a cross between Tribe and Friendster, with it's main advantage over the two being that it's really fast. Unlike Friendster, which takes a minute to load someone's profile, Orkut lets you hop around as fast as you can click. It also adds in the notion of karma (trusty/cool/sexy), which seems like a reasonable idea, but then you notice that a bunch of geeky, balding men are rated very sexy, and you have to wonder. (there's no disincentive to giving all your friends max karma)

Another thing we noticed is that the "fan" feature is kinda questionable. If you're already friends with someone, then it doesn't add that much to say you're a fan. If you're not friends, then it kinda comes off as creepy. As an example, meta and I noticed that someone had added himself to her fans list. We thought that was weird, so as a test I started clicking on photos of women I thought were cute. Sure enough, the guy was listed as a fan on all their profiles as well.

Orkut seems to be aware of the potential for these creepy situations, as the guy's profile has now been deleted with the useful message: "Removed by evil all-powerful Orkut workers."

meta's comments on orkut

August 26, 2003

Tribe.net

I'm giving Tribe.net a spin and seeing how it goes. I saw it talked about enough on Marc's Voice that I thought I'd see if it matches my expectations.

To paraphrase from my Friendster posting: Tribe.net appears to be like Friendster, only better and faster. They support 'tribes' explicitly (e.g. Stanford, Scotch Connoisseurs and Lovers),
and there's no Jon Abrams to go around killing them off. Also, they're trying to give it an element of Craig's List it that they allow you to post listings to sell stuff, etc...

I also wanted to see how long it would take for metamanda to join the pirates tribe.

August 22, 2003

Need a friend?

I miss Boston. No, not the city. Boston was a friend of mine on Friendster. There's this very mean man named Jon Abrams who seems very jealous that there are these very popular friends like Boston, so he goes around killing them.

Yesterday, Boston was killed by Abrams. Boston was a really nice friend because he told me about all the parties going on there that I was missing. It won't be quite the same, but maybe I can drown my sorry at losing my friend by replacing him with hundreds of Pretendsters. They won't tell me what's going on in Boston, but they'll give me nice testimonials so I won't feel as sad. Maybe someone should sign up Jon Abrams for Pretendster - that way he can spend his time killing pretend friends instead of cool friends like Boston.

For more on fakesters, check out Metamanda's Weblog: friendster.

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