Top Ten Facebook Apps

October 10, 2007

If you’re a Facebooker you can’t have helped being spammed, err, I mean invited by your friends to install some of the third-party applications that can now be built on the platform. I’ve actually disabled almost all of the ones I installed as I was getting overwhelmed with pirates and ninjas and people throwing virtual chairs at me :-)

if you do like your FB apps though, here’s a list of the current top ten (with the developer in brackets). Apparently there are over 5000 different applications available, but only 84 of them account for over 90 percent of usage. I wonder what would happen if you tried to install all 5000?

Here’s the list. How many have you got?

1. Top Friends (Slide)
2. FunWall (Slide)
3. Super Wall (RockYou!)
4. SuperPoke! (Slide)
5. Video (Facebook)
6. X Me (RockYou!)
7. iLike
8. Movies
9. Graffiti
10. Likeness (RockYou!)
11. My Questions (Slide)
12. Quizzes
13. Mobile (Facebook)
14. Free Gifts
15. Booze Mail
16. Compare People
17. Honesty Box
18. (fluff)Friends
19. Vampires
20. Scrabulous


Blabberize

October 4, 2007

Ahh, now this is more like it! Let’s get back to some good old fashioned nonsense.

As a sure fire way to waste even more of your precious time, Blabberize is bound to be a hit! A little flaky at the moment thanks to a mention on Techcrunch, the site lets you .. well, it lets you add an animated mouth and some sound to a photo. A description doesn’t do it justice, but if you’ve seen Rove Live here in Australia you’ll recognise the effect.

Here’s our friend Mr Ballmer as an example.


Last One And I’ll Move On

October 4, 2007

Much like blogging about blogging, blogging about Facebook is also currently contributing to blocking the tubes: you can see that I’ve been just as guilty as the next person in that regard. I also wasn’t trying to create a series on Web 2.0 either, but as I have the admin power please indulge me one last time (just don’t hold me to ‘last’ ;-)).

Normal service of random nonsense will then return. Promise.

I do find this stuff interesting though, so whilst doing some random link following on the FB subject I came across a comment on Bubble Generation from one Phil Jones. Phil is a lot more eloquent than I am on this, and so I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him.

This is, to me, the essence of my platform argument below.

Phil says: “Actually, the world of Facebook apps. and widgets is the first time I’ve started to see that an old-style platform strategy may be possible. Here the basis is something which which is a hybrid of technology, namespace and social convention. Of which Facebook’s “news-feed” is the archetypal example. Facebook’s news-feed is not merely technological : which is why other generic data-sharing feeds like RSS or Twitter aren’t equivalent. It’s also a social convention within a particular namespace and community: I’m willing to look at data that an application writes on my friend’s feed, even though I haven’t installed the application or explicitly subscribed to it. This is different from the open web – I wouldn’t welcome an ordinary web-application that my friend used, randomly spamming my email. (Similarly, if too many bots started writing to Twitter, that would kill that particular community pretty damned quickly, it’s not part of its culture either.)

Facebook’s platform power ultimately rests on their ownership of this complex but delicate socio-technical hybrid. If they can nurture and grow it, such as giving both users and applications, more and subtler ways to manage it, more nuanced types of relationships between people, with more fine grained privacy control and applications that access these both through the APIs and patterns of software behaviour, then I think they have something that’s very hard to escape from or reproduce elsewhere.

This is no longer about just data, or arguments about open access to it. It’s data + social data + social conventions.”

Well said Phil!


Facebook and Social Networking Are A Fad

October 3, 2007

Or so says Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer. To be fair to the king of the chair-throwers (alleged), Ballmer does say there is a risk that this is the case.

He may well be playing a clever game of toning down Microsoft’s interest in a rumoured stake in Facebook. Or he may just have missed the point entirely; particularly as he seems to be focussed just on the technology.

I’m with Scoble on this one. There will undoubtedly be a lot of consolidation and casualties to come from the plethora of social networks currently around. There will be cooler and more seamless technologies, new players and new cool toys to play with. What Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Thursday Club (sorry, gotta get a plug in :-)) and who knows what else provide though is a platform and a ready-made largely self-segmenting group of identifiable and targetable consumers.

Let me explain: the platform, when done right, offers an open and extensible opportunity for the originator and third-parties to build on and add interesting new twists based on existing data. Witness the Facebook API (although, as an aside, I think that whilst the viral nature of the applications built on the API is superb, they need to be cautious that people don’t get turned off by the sheer volume of ‘Zombie vs Pirate’ style requests. I’ve turned off most of the plug-ins – it was starting to feel too much like crappy cc’ed joke emails. But, I digress.)

Take that platform and add in millions of people who have voluntarily decided to add an advertising persons dream set of demographic data: age, sex, location, marital status, interests, pets, groups, fetishes, favourite bars, clubs, food. You name it and people on sites like Facebook are telling you about it. Or if not you, they sure are telling the automated algorithms that will shortly be feeding them targeted adverts and other useful information. Users on Digg might hate the adverts and a number of the tech-savvy may have ad-block or clever host files set-up so they don’t see them. But your mum? Your sister? The other sixty three and half million emo kids on MySpace? Pure gold if you can mine it.

So Mr Ballmer, it really doesn’t matter whether Microsoft could technically build another Facebook in a short time period (and that’s debatable, but we won’t get into that). It doesn’t even really matter that one particular platform loses some of its appeal, a’lah Friendster (which still goes great guns in Asia by the way). The methods might shift too. But the concept of the network will stay.

Final thought: I’ll bet there are people in Microsoft, lots of super-smart, super-switched on people in groups like Live banging their heads on the table thinking “We know how to do this, but we are missing the boat. Stop frigging around with politics, protecting positions, re-orgs and headcount manipulation and give us a few smart people, a long enough rope and some space and then see what happens.”

And, no, I don’t work at Microsoft :-)


Humans too Lazy for Web 2.0?

September 27, 2007

There’s an interesting article from The Futurist at CrunchGear which posits that the web 2.0 bubble will burst because humans are too lazy to continue contributing to collaborative websites.

I don’t buy it.

The bubble may burst for a number of reasons, but I don’t think inherent laziness will be one of them.

People love to feel connected. They love to have the chance to have thousands of ‘friends’ (however unreal those relationships may actually be). They love to show-off: blogs, videos, job skills, podcasts. They love the fleeting chance to become the next Chris Crocker or Tay Zonday.

And I love the fact that random strangers read my ramblings (hello to both of you!).

Sure, we’re always going to be searching for the next new new thing. In shorter and shorter timeframes. It’s natural therefore that Friendster gives way to MySpace which moves over for Facebook and so on. Or that people move on as they grow-up. First to Ecademy or OpenBC then LinkedIn or something else.

I’m pretty sure we’ll see more consolidation and aggregation. Maybe one virtual profile, manageable from your GPS enabled mobile device? Location info, personal details, video, pictures, blogs – all available via one uber-OpenID. Other services or people subscribe to you as appropriate.

The article asks whether people will also get fed up contributing to sites like Wikipedia for pretty much no reward? I don’t think so, but I do think that what will need to happen is the site will need to automatically utilise other sources of reputable data and will also have to tap into people’s drivers for recognition (it will be interesting to see how the new editor rules work out).

Keep us engaged, make it pretty easy to do and give us the smallest hint of global glory and we’re sold!

[update] good timing: front page of tonight’s MX paper in Sydney mentions Facebook alone growing nine-fold in Australia in the past three months. Even MySpace, so disparaged by the technorati, has trebled its numbers. What comes next? Stay tuned!


The Nutty Professor

September 26, 2007

Following on from my previous post, the following article appeared in Arstechnica.

‘Video Professor upset by criticism, sues 100 anonymous critics’.

I hadn’t seen the Video Professor previously, but it seems he’s well-known for hawking ‘Computing for Dummies’ style CDs on late-night infomercials. The CDs are ‘free’, but you end up being locked into some sort of Time-Warner affair whereby they keep sending you the rest of the series, or trying to upsell you. Unless you return the subsequent CDs in a timely fashion they will charge you for them (kind of like the old book club memberships if you remember those).

Anyway, seems like the Prof (aka John Scherer) has been angered by a series of less than complimentary comments on his product and services on various websites – particularly Infomercial Scams – and has decided to sue. He’s going after the website operators for a list of IP addresses and user-details for these ‘anonymous’ annoyed people. Luckily for the websites themselves there’s ‘safe harbor’ protection, but Scherer is pushing on for those user details with some gusto.

Welcome to the Interweb professor, you must be new around here! Firstly, internet or no there’s probably some sort of First Amendment protection of free speech that applies here. Secondly, well, see my post below: this is exactly what happens in our massively interconnected world. And thanks to that, this story – and even more negative comments – feature prominently on sites like Digg, and probably Slashdot, Reddit and who knows where else.

I’ll say it again, if your product or service sucks, you’d better be prepared to be exemplary in fixing the issues, or be prepared to have a whole lot more people than you’d like find out about it!


Feeling Hot Under the Collar?

August 15, 2007

I’m trying not to make this blog into a series of quirky funnies, I really am, but I couldn’t overlook this little beauty!

Those wacky Japanese have outdone themselves by developing a tie with a USB powered fan in it.

USB powered necktie

Err .. if you’re close enough to a USB port, couldn’t you, like, just turn on your regular desk fan?

(tip to Tom .. don’t let your mum get you one of these .. it won’t help :-) )


Bing Lee and the Escalator of Crushing Disappointment

August 14, 2007

Forgive me for getting a little too ‘local’ here, but have any of you been up to the Bing Lee store in Pitt Street? Every time I go there (and I guess by now I really should have learnt my lesson) I come away crushed by my failure to find any of the items I’ve set out for.

Going into a shop and coming out empty-handed isn’t exactly a novel experience, but I think what heightens my false expectation here is the long escalator ride you have to take to get up to the store. You head slowly up two or three floors on the one enclosed escalator, past pictures of happy smiling people with the latest and greatest gadgets. As you ascend, your mind fills with endless wonders of tech greatness just waiting for your hard-earned dollars.

As if to heighten the tension you then have to go up a second mini-escalator before you reach .. the temple of electronic dreams!

And then .. *crash* .. the reality hits as you recognise that – once again – they are out-paced technically by the 2002 Target catalogue, at twice the price. Genius!

Or maybe I’ve just summed up Sydney shopping for us of a geeky disposition?


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