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.

Social Network Integration may not be for everyone.

July 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Let me preface this by saying I enjoy Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook allows me to share personal moments with family and friends, LinkedIn allows me to keep in touch with my professional colleagues – past and present, and Twitter gets me the news as it happens. That said, I would like to keep them separate. Individually, they are awesome. Together, they could cause a lot of confusion and pain and potentially scary situations.

Last fall with Facebook on the cusp of global domination, the Facebook single sign-on program started expanding to cover all other aspects of our internet life. The purported motive was to allow a single sign in access to all websites of interest. Soon enough, websites were supporting the Facebook single sign on method. Little did everyone realize that Facebook now had access to parts of our life that were until then, ours.

Now everybody wants to be a part of the social network paradigm. Twitter and LinkedIn also wanted a piece of the action and soon enough there was social integration left, right and center. To be fair, all of these are options one can disable but the lure is still there for unsuspecting public to want to link up their private lives with their work and their public interests.  Everybody from Microsoft to Google to Facebook to LinkedIn to Yahoo/Twitter is pushing for it.

There is a lot at stake here starting with the user’s data and preferences. By integrating your social lives, these networks have access to everything about you ranging from your favorite restaurant to your best friends to where you work to your past employers to your son’s school. By hooking all these up in one place, we are exposing ourselves to huge ramifications if this data were to be shared with the wrong audiences or worse still- be hacked.

Microsoft just announced their Outlook connector which integrates your Outlook Inbox with your Facebook friends. Just imagine the kind of ways things could go wrong. With that thought, Ill end this post. If this topic interests you, there is an excellent (but long) Slideshare presentation titled the Real Life Social Network, from a developer at Google talking about the future of social networking. Note that Google has an active role in this so read about it with that perspective.

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