Are you CURIOUS enough to be a Web 2.0 Leader??

March 12, 2007 at 5:26 pm 19 comments

It’s a fair question whatever your personal or professional pursuit.  I’ve thought about it a lot the past month as I’ve become a more “semi-public” persona around community work.  I’ve also been thinking about this because at Microsoft, this is the time of year we go through a process called Mid Year Career Discussions.  This is a formal process where every employee pulls together and reviews their own personal development plan.  So, advice for the day…or I should say…your critical personal question:  Are you curious enough to drive community work? 

 If my blog is the only blog you read on the topic, the answer is definitely no – not curious enough…check my links for fellow recommended bloggers. 

Next, are you playing with “stuff?”  Trying things out?  Forming opinions?  Right or wrong – at least getting your hands dirty enough to speak first hand about them?  Below are some the things I’ve been trying and/or using to various degrees.  What follows is NOT really a product/service review – with many, I’m hardly far enough along the path to have firm opinions yet.  But, I have included a few “impressions.”  I hope you might point me at other things to try and/or comment back on your opinions of these and other resources.

So, here goes:

Ning – I recently posted about Ning – I’m leaning towards an “I don’t care” point of view.  I like the concept and usability.  But I’m struggling with the idea of all these different social sites for personal community building.  The “killer app” for social networking is the network – critical mass of engaged participants.  It’s not the UI (or craigslist wouldn’t be so awesome!!).  For what I’m interested in, the destination that houses the community seems irrelevant.  If the content is good, I’ll grab the feed and participate as interested.

Twitter – hmm – still playing…click the link and help me think more on this one.  I give it some points for being different and potentially fun – kind of a group IM, but not so invasive!!  Don’t think it will change my life and to be determined if it just becomes a fad and then disinteresting as life gets busy.

myspace – For me, I would call it “mywaste.”  I had to try it out.  I’m too old and maybe too married to appreciate it.  I set up a profile (married, kids, looking for business networking).  Within 48 hrs, I had been contacted by someone looking for a “relationship” (yes, you know what I mean!!) and the largest ads appearing on my page were “Meet Singles in Redmond.”  Myspace makes me feel dirty.  And yes, I know I’m not the target demographic for myspace.

Wallop – kinda interesting…I do like the UI, though like my comment above regarding Ning, the UI won’t win me over.  This is a closed beta, so may not be easy for you to tour.  What seems different to me (and better than ning or myspace or…) is that it feels like my community there is My Community.   Think of it this way.  In Ning, I feel like a hotel guest.  I have a room amongst a whole bunch of other co-habitants with whom I may or may not share any interest.  Wallop feels more like a home.  I invite in who I want and the rest can be fairly invisible to me.  I kinda like that. 

delicious – Changing gears – I’m all for social bookmarking – looking forward to consolidation/aggregation around this.  Anything that helps groups of like interested people swarm to more interesting/valuable content I’m in favor of.  For what I am interested in most, this is more useful to me than a search engine.

technorati – I like Technorati.  I tend to use it as a tool for being a “gracious guest.”  Meaning, I look for people who have linked to me and I go visit them.  I say thanks and more often than not find that I just found someone else who I’m interested in following. 

mybloglog – I quickly lost interest…someone tell me what I missed.

Digg / coRank – I really like this concept.  I was surprised by the traffic that found me once I added Digg on some of my posts.  I really thought that given my niche that my Digg ratings (7 is my all time high on a post) would always leave me invisible in Digg.  I stand corrected.  Clearly people are using Digg to search topics and nav to sites of interest.  I still think these services are too expensive.  As a blogger I don’t like taking the extra steps to use Digg or coRank.  I look forward to an alternative.

Flickr – what’s not to like.  I will add a lot more photos the next few weeks from the MVP Summit.

Facebook – I like facebook, though likely not enough to use it much.  I mean really, why do I want profiles, friends and photos in so many different places?  It’s a hassle.  I will use this passively to network, but likely will need to be pulled there, vs proactively going there.

Linkedin – Full of recruiters!!!  But I guess that is to be expected.  Join my network if interested.   On the surface, I think Facebook might be a “better” Linkedin, but I can’t yet say enough better that it is worth the time it would take to move over and I don’t really want two of them!!

OpenID – Still not sure why Microsoft took so much grief years ago over Hailstorm.  I wish I had it now.  I feel like every new social site that opens requires me to goldrush to it to get my same ID so I don’t have to keep track of different ones.  I hate that not all sites require or even support “hard” passwords (special characters) as it means I maintain multiple passwords.  I like the idea of OpenID – I think it will fail though.  I signed up anyway and wish them well – goldrush!!

cocomment – I like it a lot, but for whatever reason don’t use it really religiously.  For those of you that occasionally post in others blogs and think: “how am I going to remember to go back here to follow this conversation?”  CoComment is for you.  Very useful for this, but, as I said, I don’t find myself using it religiously.  If I’m that into the conversation I’ll grab the feed and hang on for awhile.

MSN Spaces – a beautiful thing for ease of use.  Bar none – Microsoft employee bias out front – it rocks for ease of use.  see my post on why I left spaces for wordpress here.

LiveQnA – Nice.  I use it infrequently and for very random things, but I like it.  Example.  I have a home deep fryer.  My wife asked me how we get rid of the left over oil we change every once in awhile…I checked the book: nothing.  Quick online search: nothing that helpful.  Posted the question in LiveQnA:  6-7 answers in a few hours – several good, one we used.

WordPress – Truthfully, I have not looked a lot at others, so no comparison here…but I am happy with it.  Made MUCH more happy through the use of Live Writer. 

 There are others, but these are the ones most top of mind as of late.  Feel free to add.

Sean

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"Happy Birthday" Community Group Therapy… Tom Gruber on Collective Intelligence…

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amy Balliett  |  March 13, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Check out ourtbeat.com… we’re a Seattle based start up. Ourtbeat is a professional networking community created by artists for artists. We are launching this summer, but if you want to check it out from the ground up, we’re launching beta shortly. Currently, we have a simple splash page acting as a place holder as the site undergoes initial construction, but the page offers some important information along with the ability to sign up for beta and send information about ourtbeat to your friends and colleagues. As a beta tester, you will have the opportunity to fully critique the site and let us know your likes and dislikes, your needs and don’t needs, and your expectations of all that is ourtbeat. From your critiques written about other sites, I have no doubt that you could easily help us raise the bar on UI. Check it out and let me know what you think!

    Reply
  • 2. Sean ODriscoll  |  March 14, 2007 at 8:42 am

    I’ll check it out. Beyond my 4 and 7 year olds, few would consider me an artist, but sounds like and interesting effort.

    Sean

    Reply
  • 3. Amy Balliett  |  March 14, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Identifying as an artist is truly subjective. One would say that blogging is an art in and of itself, so your blog could be considered your art…. though I’m certain your children view you as the next Picasso : )

    At ourtbeat, we cater to all walks of art be you an artist, a critic, or a little of both… there’s an artist in all of us.

    Thank you in advance for checking out ourtbeat!

    Reply
  • 4. Suzanna  |  March 14, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    In the past I thought what was so cool about Google was how uncluttered by advertising it was, it had that cool fringe feel to it…I was worried what would happen when they got big and got advertisers, how do you maintain that indescribable feel.? This Business Week discusses advertisers increasing interest in “Social Networking”

    http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/mar2007/tc20070314_884996.htm?chan=technology_technology+index+page_more+of+today%27s+top+stories

    Reply
  • 5. Damon Billian  |  March 15, 2007 at 9:25 am

    I am personally a fan of del.icio.us, Flickr and LinkedIn. Most of the other products, while interesting, aren’t things I would use on a regular basis.

    I found Twitter to be highly disruptive from a professional standpoint. If they make a few changes to the product, it *might* become a more valuable tool down the road. I just read a post about a guy that turned it off after receiving a 60.00 SMS bill & it points to the need for stronger settings & filtering by the service.

    Reply
  • 6. Amy Balliett  |  March 15, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Nice article post! Social Networking sites are inundated with unnecessary ads… The smaller more niche ones are truly the way to go. I think that “in your face” ads go against the point of a social networking site. In my opinion, when people have a personal profile page, that page shouldn’t spew out advertising to all viewers as well. I don’t use Myspace partially because I don’t want to advertise a product I may not be too fond of while I’m trying to network with friends and relatives. Have you checked out spangy.com? It’s pretty new, but from what I gather, it’s intent is to cultivate intelligent conversation while keeping away the gaudy banner advertising.

    Reply
  • 7. Sean  |  March 16, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    thanks to each of you for the additions. I’ll check out the article and spangy. I like the idea of twitter for some reason, but I am struck by how poor the performance is…it is sooooo painfully slow most of the time – especially for how thin an experience it really is.

    sean

    Reply
  • 8. Lee  |  March 19, 2007 at 8:26 am

    Great post Shawn.

    Twitter is going to be interesting to watch. They have said that they are about to add group functions. I can see it being really useful to have a Bumbershoot group (for instance) where you and your friends Twitter what is happening through the weekend. It’s tough right now because it’s so broad. I do enjoy it though.

    Have you seen this:
    http://twittermap.com/twittervision/

    Reply
  • 9. Suzanna  |  March 19, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Wow Lee, that map is amazing! I am checking out what John Edwards is doing…He’s in New Hampshire, figures!

    Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • 10. Sean  |  March 19, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    Oh NO!! Twittervision!!! I wish you hadn’t shown me that! kinda cool.

    sean

    Reply
  • 11. Deirdre Walsh  |  March 20, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    I went to the SXSW Interactive conference last week, which has more than 20 panels on community. The rage of the event was Twitter. Check out this article that states Twitter traffic increased 20 fold on March 10 (the opening day): http://www.waxy.org/archive/2007/03/15/tracking.shtml.

    Reply
  • 12. Sean  |  March 20, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    I saw this…amazing. I am playing quite a bit with Twitter and very curious to see where it goes. The performance is pretty poor still (likely from the rapid growth), but I’ll hang on for awhile.

    sean

    Reply
  • 13. Evelyn Ruf  |  March 21, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Thanks for your posting on this topic – it encouraged me to re-visit some of the sites I was familiar with and investigate some which were new to me or only known by name. One of those latter ones is linkedin, which I have ignored in favor of the http://www.xing.com (formally known as OpenBC) business networking site which is very popular in Germany. Since you asked for opinions, here are some of my impressions…

    Ning: I joined your Ning community with some reservations (will it add value to what’s already in this blog?) Current opinion: wait and see.

    Twitter: I would love it if my son (currently in the UK) would log his goings-on, but he couldn’t be bothered. And I couldn’t be bothered to learn what other people not personally important to me have had for lunch. For me, useful for loved ones only.

    Wallop: Looks promising, requested invitation to join. I like the invitation only aspect – if I understand the concept correctly, it means that you aren’t on exhibit subject to predators.

    del.icio.us: I signed up and tagged a few sites I use a lot. Not sure if I need this. I almost always have my laptop (and my favorites) with me. Web searches find me what I need. Am I interested in other people’s bookmarks? Certainly there are some out there I would find useful or interesting, but do I want to spend my time wading through lots of useless stuff to find a few gems? This is something for people with a lot of time on their hands.

    technorati: I like this site for looking for blogs or blog postings on a particular subject, but I can see that bloggers would value it to see how their blog is rated. Also interesting to see what subjects people are mostly blogging about – in this respect the site is a mirror of societal fads and interests. The only downside is having to think up yet another user name and password!

    Mybloglog: This site was new to me – it is fast and looks nice, so it can feed the egos of members who post their information there. I personally don’t need what this site has to offer. If I click on one of someone’s communities, it gives me a list of all the members of the community (I don’t need that). From there I have to click on the community’s URL to see what the community is about. I’d like to go there directly.

    corank/Digg: I like the concept of being able to submit the URLS of external story items (e.g. blog postings, news items, etc.) to be evaluated by other users. I was familiar with Digg, but corank was new to me. Judging by the discussion in the corank forums, user ratings are not necessarily a reliable indicator of quality, however, since “thumbs-down” can mean anything from “The article is bad” to “I’m not interested in the subject matter”. Also there are discussions around “spammers” who thumbs-down or thumbs-up everything indiscriminately. Nevertheless definitely worth browsing – the search functionality is good. I find it fascinating that in some respects the community determines what you look at – only the popular articles bubble up to the front page. The fact that they are popular invites you to read articles you wouldn’t otherwise be interested in – perhaps at the expense of other content that you don’t have time for afterwards. Manipulation by the masses? (I’m sure there’s a nicer sounding sociological term for this…)

    QnA: I really like this concept. QnA is also a fun place to answer questions, because you don’t have to be an expert on anything special – everyone should be able to find some question they can answer. It’s a question of setting up yet another account and whiling away the time browsing through the questions. This can mean wading through loads of goofy questions, though, submitted by not-so-serious members. Because of the QnA format, riddle masters are also plying their trade on the site.

    That’s all I had time for today…

    Reply
  • 14. SteveA  |  March 21, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Oh, man, I have to read more than my bosses blog to get ahead???
    Man, the Web is really screwing with the rungs on the ladder of success. πŸ˜›

    I know you left yourself an out by claiming that this not a review of services and that you are just dabbling in many of these tools/serivces. But inquiring minds still want to know what criteria you’re using even in making snap judgments. Is it value of the community to you personally, technological innovation, business impact, etc?

    It’s the myspace comments that make me ask (and let’s table the arguments on just what myspace is for now.) We’re both guys of a certain age, with a family, in a specific industry and maybe even similar interests (you like to cook BBQ and I like to eat the BBQ you cook.) So, in those respects, I tend to agree with your comments.

    But, I’m also a huge music fan, worked in the business when we still sold large black circles, and still have pals in retail (yes, Virginia there are still record stores and some of them even make money) and bands. I would argue that myspace is the best thing to happen for music in the digital era, and perhaps the most successful distribution mechanism for bands, regardles of label affiliation.

    There’s lots of buzz around the fact that myspace has it’s first real star in Lily Allen, but I’m far more interested in the impact it’s had on musicians making niche music (power pop is my drug of choice) that have rabid, if small fanbases, as well as those who may have been players in the new wave/indie boom of the late 70s/early 80s who are still making great music but have hertofore lacked good ways of connecting directly with listeners,

    Point being, it’s the prism we view any of these things through that impacts our analysis. What prism are you using?

    Reply
  • 15. Sean ODriscoll  |  March 24, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Great point…my criteria are simple. Let me re-caveat that I was not performing a review…just personal observations. But, as I look at each of these, my assessment is just a personal observation of my view of their utility to me. Yes, this is oh so selfish:) But, that is the nature of it. I like the Music story…I will dig into that a little and open my mind.

    I am continuing to waste my energy on twitter…but…why not:)

    Reply
  • 16. Ale  |  March 29, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    This is a great research, Sean.
    I went into some of them and they seem quite interesting.

    I just wanted to add a game, which is ReaLife (http://secondlife.com). I’m sure you and your readers know about it already: now it seems many Companies (but not only them, also Politicians, Organizations, etc) are using this game to “promote” themselves and add their persons/representatives into this kind of new online community world. It’s more than “The Sims”, more than a community, because it lets the user to interact in every possible way with other users everywhere in the world.. Also, Companies and Organizations could actually promote themselves using online tools, like in the real world.

    I think I’m gonna have a deeper look into that .. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • 17. Ale  |  March 29, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Sorry, 2 things (no, three :-):
    – I mispelled the game name: name is Second Life
    – I would like to point you to this interesting article about Investors on Second Life (http://www.investors.com/editorial/IBDArticles.asp?artsec=17&issue=20070221)
    And third, as it seems not to have any correlations with web-based communities, they actually have! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • […] last week in Sonoma at the Online Community Business Forum.  I once blogged here:  Are you curious enough to be a Web 2.0 leader? Well, Shara is certainly curious!  Take a look at the great resource list categorized […]

    Reply
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