Title tells all

Take a look at the following tweet –

Interesting isn’t it? The tweet tells you the title of the article and there a link present with it! How wonderful is that?!

Frankly, that’s the crappiest type of tweet I’ve ever seen. Social networks like Twitter and Alpha can mostly only support enough space that if someone is putting up a link, they’ll either put up a title and a link or an explanation and a link. And guess what type of post super busy (read: lazy) business people, SEO Gurus and Social evangelists who use automated services like Buffer or IFTTT go for? You guessed it, the former.

Why does it matter? It matters because in this world of micro blogging and tweeting, everything is just a headline and nothing is context. If I start giving importance to everything anyone ever posts, it’ll be hell for me. So, it only goes to say that it’d be etiquette to ensure that whatever you’re posting is easier to read by your followers. How can you do that? Pretty simple. Do NOT post links with titles. Post links with reasoning. By posting in context, you’re ensuring the other person has an understanding of why you recommend this article or service instead of them just hopping to the link only to discover they’re not interested.

Oh, and SEO gurus, by posting the context, you’re adding more keywords to your posts, thus making sure you get better hits. It’s really a win-win situation even though it might seem to take longer for you to make that post.

By the way, when you look at it, does my post’s title do a good job of explaining what the article is about? Not really. That’s just an example of how bad/wrongly worded blog post titles really are. So by adding context, you’re adding a lot more value to your followers.

Good day and have a good weekend! 🙂

A response to Marco Arment about ADN Freemium

Today, App.net (ADN), the social network that made me drop all others made an important announcement – that it is going to allow free accounts that are invited by currently paying members. I did not intend on writing a blog post about it because this is news that has already spread through wildfire in the tech community. Some have lauded and some criticized it. But the post that made me write is this commentary by Marco Arment.

Marco argues that while such news is welcome, ADN needs to do more to promote user growth instead of focusing on developing the API. He goes on to state that the main reason people are signing up is the twitter like functionality sans the spam and advertisements and instead of building file storage APIs, the team should develop spam protection and open the gates completely to free members. Continue reading

It is 1984.

Big Brother is watching. This is the ominous note that strikes me whenever I think about George Orwell’s amazing book. It makes sense in a senseless world. We are aware of our governments watching us. But I’m not going to talk about intrusive governments. I’m going to talk about something else. Ever since I joined ADN, I’ve been part of a growing debate over privacy concerns regarding Facebook and developer concerns over a now well-locked down Twitter API. I’ve read about Facebook’s new Graph Search, I’ve read about Twitter’s fight with Instagram and I’ve read about Dunbar’s number. But today, when I saw a link about Twitter being the fastest growing global social platform, is when I realized where all of this is going.

Many months ago, I read an interesting article on Quartz about how Facebook is looking to Africa for its next Billion users. The method is simple – provide Facebook access for free via SMS. In this classic move, people get addicted to the free social network and Facebook gets marketable user data on a Billion more. This despite the fact that we’ve well established that Facebook isn’t what it’s all pegged to be – a way to connect with people. Then I saw this new post about Twitter today and I realized where this is all going. Those of you who’ve read 1984 will know that in the book there are three main countries, each too large to be defeated by the other two, even if they try to combine forces, which never really happens because of ever-changing alliances. All this while, the common people of each State are fed misinformation and trained to accept it as fact. This is an Oligarchical system that cannot be broken. There is a perpetual war and all available resources are concentrated towards it, sacrificed from availability to common man with the hope that it’ll help in the war effort. But the most important facet? Everyone is watched. Continue reading

Save yourself from the Ephemeral

As users of the Internet, we change a lot. We move email IDs, we jump from one social networking fad to another, we change bookmarking and read-it-later sites and even crash, delete or just forget blogs that we write on.

Most of the stuff I’ve done in the past 10 years or so on the Internet has been pretty personal. Emails, Orkut or Facebook where privacy settings allowed me to block external users or bookmarking sites that were private by default. But recently, most of my contribution to the Internet has been public – twitter and App.net, my blogs and even my bookmarking has been public. So is true for most of us out there. With the shift in social networks’ view of what data should be totally private, there’s a lot of data that’s in the public domain. This also means that there’s equally that much data that can be lost or can stagnate when an eventuality occurs – a web service shuts down because of acquisition or drying up of funds, your blog crashes and you have to start from scratch, you leave a social network and even though you download all your data and invite all your connections to the new one, some don’t join or you can’t upload any of that data anywhere else (how many social networks out there are interchangeable? None.) or maybe you just stop using a site or service and that data just sits there, alone and forgotten (just ask my bookmarks on del.icio.us). Continue reading

Twitter isn’t as impartial as some expect

They’re on our turf now, not the airwaves.

via Moneyball for Votes | Jason Putorti.

Jason Putorti made this comment 3 days ago. I just read the post. The context is that Politicians have been spending massive amounts of money on print, TV and direct advertisements without caring about talking to their voters and having a real relationship with their constituents. That way, the politician with the most money wins because they cast the widest net on the most sources. He goes on to point that this is not longer the case because of the growth of the Internet and specifically, Twitter. Continue reading

Year of Social

The season is changing and here, in Boulder, Colorado, it means colder nights and shorter days. It’s time for animals to wrap up their food gathering operations and finish working on cozy homes for the all too familiar winter.

 

This hibernation is also coming to a very important aspect of my life. Last year, at about the same time, I dumped Facebook in favor of Twitter. I had been inactive on the micro blog since long and returned to it, only to discover so many new and amazing connections and services. I found people worth talking to and got help where I needed it. I also posted a lot on this blog here, taking it through many iterations, themes and (free) hosting providers. Now I’ve moved it to a paid provider – NearlyFreeSpeech in order to maintain a better uptime ratio.

Continue reading

App Review: Everyday.me

Whenever a trend comes to the social network scene, it comes with a flood of apps and services that do the exact same thing. I recently signed up for a service called TimeHop. It’s a neat service that emails you every day with details of posts that you made on your various social networks exactly a year ago.

 

Everyday.me is an iOS app that connects to your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and basically records everything you post online every day. Also, the service sends you emails every few days reminding you of things you did a few years ago. Sounds familiar? Yep, TimeHop does pretty much the same thing. What’s the difference? Well, Everyday.me collects all that information that you post daily and saves it ON THEIR SERVERS. Awesome way to have your data protected isn’t it?

 

Anyways, Coming to the most important part of this blog post, Am I keeping this app? Points –

1. Beautiful UI

2. You can see all you do in a stream, from across all your social networks.

3. You can tag your  posts for your own reference since all of it is totally private

4. All your data that’s kept on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will now also be stored on their servers.

 

So? Am I keeping it? No. It’s out of my phone. Sorry guys!

How will App.net’s Culture grow?

I’ve been reading a lot of discussion on App.net about how the concept of reblogging/retweeting is going to grow on the network. Since I don’t know how the idea of a retweet (RT) grew on Twitter, I went hunting for information. Turns out, Wikipedia details out the growth of the RT on twitter in this article here. Turns out, the concept of using @ to signify a user and RT to signify a re-post grew organically among twitter users around 2008. This troubled my mind a bit. So, in essence, the growth of culture on twitter was independent of what the company wanted and instead, was in the hands of the users.

Now we come to a discussion on App.net. This discussion right here – Echoes, RPs and “>>” talks about people using the “Share” button on Google Chrome via an extension called Succynct by developer and App.net member Abraham Williams. The point to note is that since the platform is still in it’s infancy, a proper lingo for re-posting has not yet been decided and the creator, Dalton Caldwell has just been using the lingo “RP” for RePost. The conversation flows to discuss the concepts of “>>” and finally, that of “Echo”. Here is where the biggest problem lies. The developer, having a distaste for “>>”, says that in the next build of his extension, he’ll consider adding the “Echo” keyword.

App.net started as a way to hand over control of the flow of conversation to the people. The promise is that no longer will we be plagued by advertisements and spam bots. The promise did not talk about who would have control over the ideas and the culture. This means that people building on top of App.net have the ultimate control. Now here’s the thing – A common user of App.net pays $50 per year while a developer pays $100. Obviously, there will be a lot fewer developers than users. This also means that those making all the apps, extensions and services on top of App.net will be very few. Compare this with Facebook, Twitter and other ad-supported networks. Anyone can get up and create an app. Thus, the onus of deciding lingo rests either on the common users who popularize concepts (as in the case of Twitter) or in the hands of the company (Facebook).

App.net is pretty young right now and because of the promise made to it’s users, the company has rested control of the culture into the hands of the common users. Or maybe not. The disparity between paying users and paying developers means that a concentrated few will get to decided how things formulate. The reason, if it’s not clear to everyone is that a lot of users for all social networks nowadays are mobile. That means that the default web interface for App.net is not going to dictate culture as well as iOS apps do. Even when users are on their desktops, extensions like Succynct will rule the platform and create culture.

Maybe these predictions will come true and maybe not. But the fact remains that as long as App.net retains this business model, the power to create something on top of it will not be in the hands of the masses. Perhaps when App.net has proven it’s point and penetrated a large chunk of the market, it should revisit it’s developer strategy and open doors to many more people, thus making sure that it remains true to it’s goals.