Twitter is not all about tweeting

September 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

First off, I wanted to apologize to my regular readers (turns out surprisingly that there are a handful) for the month long absence from blogging. Tennis and family took all my spare time (and that’s a good thing) but as always, technology made its way back into the system. My company released the newest version of its product, the Kindle 3(we dont refer to it as Kindle 3- just the Kindle) to great success and acclaim. I am now a true e-book reader convert. It bothers me when books are not yet available on the Kindle and I cant stay away from my Kindle beyond a day. I love the way it makes the book discovering and purchasing process so simple yet takes nothing away from the book reading experience which to me is religion. So my shameless plug starts and ends here- Try a Kindle, just once.

On to the topic of this post, Twitter. As Twitter is announcing some new and exciting things as I type, I wanted to respond to a very common question I get from friends, colleagues and casual acquaintances. What is the point of Twitter and why should I care about someone’s 140 character rants?. First and foremost, Twitter is not just about tweeting. You could just go to www.twitter.com and monitor trending topics. No account needed whatsoever. You could have any one of the dozen’s of Twitter apps and do the same on your smart phone (personal recommendations for Twitter Apps: Twitterific, Official Twitter app and Tweetdeck) and just follow trending or topics of interest. By creating a Twitter account, you can start following people, websites, blogs and newspapers so you are on the know as things happen. Again, you dont have to tweet to have an account. And herein lies the beauty of this service. You get this aggregator service (not very different from your RSS feeds but still different) that collects both news and opinions, none longer than 140 characters for your quick consumption.This makes it almost a Google Reader ultralite but with the same punch. Everyone and every business or business person making it big or hoping to do so is on Twitter.

Twitter has become my go to destination for topics of interest- both news and opinion. For breaking news, there is CNN. For movies there is the indefatigable Roger Ebert (his tweets alone are worth logging into Twitter). For sports, every sportswriter and beat writer is on twitter not to mention every ESPN and SI journalist. Peter King of SI is always on for NFL. All popular tech blogs have a twitter presence (gdgt/ engadget/ mashable/ techcrunch/…/…).

So I hope I convinced that cynic in you to give Twitter a shot. When all the news from Twitter’s press conference is digested, I will update the post accordingly.

The Future of Facebook

May 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

Facebook is at the thick of things again and for all the wrong reasons. From Zuckerberg’s past to the Zynga brouhaha, every bit of news about Facebook these days is negative. Now, with the privacy issues getting so much attention, it is time to examine it in more detail. For a objective timeline depicting the changes to Facebook’s privacy policy, see this excellent compilation by Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Two recommended readings on the topic are here and here. It has become so big that Facebook is rumored to be holding an all hands meeting to address the firestorm. Now there is talk of a new wave of Facebook deactivations [1] [2][3] that is starting to make it trendy to quit Facebook. Big and influential blogs are calling for users to quit Facebook [1][2][3]. And did I mention about privacy groups and senators gunning for Facebook. To complete the circle of defamy, there is now a high profile trendy open source alternative to Facebook that is getting a lot of attention called Diaspora.

Now admitted that this could all be dismissed as growing pains for one of the biggest Web sites (if not The Biggest) in the world. Didn’t Microsoft and Google have to go through similar pains in the form of antitrust filings and privacy violation accusations. The Google Buzz privacy issues are still raw in our minds. But this time it seems like there is a growing problem with the ever changing, ever complicated privacy policies of Facebook. As time goes by, it seems like more and more information is being made public by default and it is also getting harder and harder to keep things private.

So where does it leave us?. Out in the open as always. Privacy as a necessity is dead. It seems to be getting more and more optional by the day. To quote Mark Zuckerberg, “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.” . He may be singled out for the scope of this article and in view of the current situation but his opinion is really no different from most Web 2.0 companies. The consumer, your, data is no longer yours and it is extremely valuable.

So what can we do?. For starters, revisit our Facebook privacy settings and tweak it to our personal choice. It would also help visiting the page every once in a while to keep pace with policy changes which are forever changing. It would also help to manage what is being shared in Facebook. I am guilty of sharing more than I should and I have started making remedial changes. Facebook is awesome when it comes to sharing photos and thoughts and links and ideas with friends and family. The only problem is there are far more people watching than you think or want to. Think about it.

Update: Now WSJ has an article saying that “how to delete Facebook account” is starting to trend high in Google Search.

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