Monthly Archives: July 2007

Are We Replacing Real Relationships with Facebook, Jason Calacanis Asks

In a recent post, Jason Calacanis asks the question

Is Facebook a more efficient, rejection-free, surrogate for the real world? Is that what we want?

I think Jason Calacanis is on to something. Granted there are TONS of positives to it but people can use Facebook as a way not having to deal with relationships in real life.

With Facebook, I can decide who I want to or not to hear from. There aren’t as many surprises. It’s me crafting my own little world that I want to live in. Is that healthy?

Part of life is learning to live with what you can’t control.

More on this to come…

WCAG 2.0 July 2007 Update

If you haven’t heard, there has been the following update about the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

The WCAG Working Group received many constructive comments on the 17 May 2007 Drafts. They separated the comments into about 450 issues, ranging from minor edits to technical issues. In the first two weeks of July, the Working Group had eight half-day worksessions where they addressed about 150 of those issues and started work on another 100. It will likely take 3 to 4 months to address all of the issues and prepare the next draft.

The Working Group will respond to each comment. Once the comments have been addressed, the Working Group plans to publish a second WCAG 2.0 Last Call Working Draft to provide for review of the completed edits before moving on to the next stages. The next stages are described in How WAI Develops Accessibility Guidelines through the W3C Process.

We Need a Facebook & Netflix Mashup

For the longest time, I was a Blockbuster Online user (I’m not sure why). I recently changed over to Netflix. I’m still not completely sure how the services are that much different but I’ll be reporting back soon.

Anywho… I was thinking that there should be an application on Facebook which takes what movies that I and my friends have seen through Netflix and shows them in my Facebook newsfeed. For example, I just got the movie The Queen. My friends would be “Oh, Justin got ‘The Queen’ on Netflix. He thought it was great Maybe I should get it?”

This would be even better then what Flixster is trying to do with their movies Facebook application because you already have a service (Netflix) which is recording a user’s movie viewing habits and their reviews.

Too many new applications ask me to do too much. They want me to add all kinds of information into their system. The thing is the information already exists in other places.

What’s the latest application you’ve used where you’ve had to review something or enter something that you’ve already entered in for the thousandth time?

You Are Not In Control

I’m going to tell you something that they probably don’t talk about in advertising and marketing classes. You’re not in control of your product or in control of your brand. Your users vote with their feet. They decide your fate.

What amazes me is that so many companies, organizations, and people think they can tell their users what to think.  There is this idea that all you have to do is put out the magic marketing campaign and everything will be better.  Reality just doesn’t work that way.

Your users are going to talk about your product. They’re going to talk about your brand. The question is do you wanna be part of the conversation?

This is going to take time. It’s going to take time away from your other initiatives. You can start a blog but it’s not going to magically write itself. You can get an online forum but it’s not going to start itself.  I think you’ll see that building community ultimately pays off.

One of the best examples of this is Digg. They listen to their community and let them take substantial ownership of the product and the brand.

Digg recently instituted some changes to their comments. People didn’t like some of the changes. Kevin Rose asked for everyone’s feed back and listened to what people had to say. They changed the Digg comments again. They knew it was their users that they were there to serve so it was best to listen to what they wanted.

Even a more extreme case is back in May 2007, Digg users were spreading the HD-DVD copy protection key around the site.  Digg quickly took it down.  There was an uproar.  There users spoke and said we want to spread the key wherever they want to put it.  While this may not be the  action I would’ve taken, Digg changed course, decided to get behind their users,  and let them spread the key as they wish.   This endeared Digg even more to its fan base.

You may ask, “What has this gotten Digg?”  Well their numbers have been consistently going up.

The lesson of the day is that you have to listen to your users.  Have a conversation with your users.  You users are in control of your fate.

Last Chance to See Joe Price’s This Digital Life: Basic Instructions for Coping with the 21st Century

Today is your last chance to see Joseph Price’s play “This Digital Life: Basic Instructions  for Coping with the 21st Century.”  It is showing at the Goethe-Institut (812 7th St. NW) at 2:30pm.

I’d be there with 20 friends if we all didn’t have a wedding to go to this afternoon but I encourage you all to go. I think you will enjoy yourselves and it will challenge you to think about your Web 2.0 lives.

Have you seen it already?  What’d you think?  Drop me a comment.

Hopefully the response for the play has been good enough that it will get picked up again somewhere else.

Too Many Web Pages Load Too Slowly… Use Yahoo’s YSlow

My internet connection in my apartment isn’t great so it seems like some Web pages load really slowly.  I’m also frequently in coffee shops sharing sharing wifi with 20 people.

The boys at Yahoo! have developed YSlow, an add-on to the Mozilla Firefox Extension Firebug.  It tests a Web page against a set of performance heuristics that they’ve developed to see if a Web page will load quickly.

I’m really impressed.  I’m adding this tool to my development toolbox.

(thanks Nate K.)

Will Delta Air Lines Join the Conversation?

Liz Lawley, professor in the IT Department at RIT (where I went to school), recently blogged about a negative experience that she had with Delta Air Lines.   She had paid extra money to have one of the Delta Air Line employees accompany her son, who was having his first unaccompanied flight. Unfortunately, things went very wrong…
The Delta employee accidentally put her son on the wrong plane and almost sent her son to the wrong city, until a much wider person noticed the error. Liz was pissed and rightly so.  If I had a child and this happened, I’d be pissed.  When she tried to follow up on the problem to see how it was resolved, she was pointed towards red tape.  Like any good Web 2.0 citizen, Liz Lawley blogged about the experience.

If I was Delta Air Lines, I would have one person in our marketing department who did nothing except monitor the Web and social media to see what people were saying about me.  If they did this, they would be able to see the concerns that Liz had about this issue.  They could then work with Liz to craft a solution to this problem.

If you’re a company or a person thats out there trying to accomplish something in the world, people may be talking about you or your organization.  You want to be a member of the community and a part of the conversation.

By being a part of the conversation, you can help to address issues before they spiral out of control.  By being part of the conversation and talking to people with concerns, you can create new evangelists and advocates for your organization.

Friend Me Up

To quote my man Gary Vaynerchuk, “Friend me up.”  I’ve added a box in the sidebar of my blog with a list of all of the social networks that I’m in.

If you’re a reader of this blog and use one of those networks, please friend me.  It’s always fun to have new friends. :-p  I love getting to know the people read what I write.

Startup Weekend is Coming to Washington, DC on October 26-28

Back in early July, 68 geeks got together in Boulder, Colorado with one goal.  They wanted to create a Web application and a startup company in a weekend.  It was Startup Weekend.  They created VoSnap.

Well from October 26th to 28th, Startup Weekend is coming to Washington DC.

It will be hosted by Andrew Hyde from the original StartupWeekend and William Kern from AOL.

I’m excited for the event but definitely skeptical about how successful a startup can be when 70+ are trying to exhurt their influence.

Regardless, I’ll be there with bells on.

Meenster – Find DC Metro Times on Your iPhone

One of my favorite new Apple iPhone apps is Meenster (http://www.meenster.com). You can select your Washington, DC Metro Line (Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, or Green). You then select your station. It will tell you how much time you have before the next train moving in each direction.

If you’re at the pub grabbing a drink, you can check Meenster. If it says the next train isn’t coming for 20 minutes, you have time to grab a quick drink. It’s super convenient.

It’s built with Joe Hewitt’s iUI.