New York Times appoints social media editor

I have to admit I didn’t really know what to make of this when it first hit the wires.

My initial reaction was “contradictions in terms” – surely the whole essence of social media is that is is self generating, self managing and ultimately self perpetuating so why would anyone need to be an editor ?

Dig a little deeper and you find the role, according to a memo from  deputy managing editor Jonathan Landman is “… someone who concentrates full-time on expanding the use of social media networks and publishing platforms to improve New York Times journalism and deliver it to readers”. Laudable indeed. The memo continues that the role will   “… work closely with editors, reporters, bloggers and others to use social tools to find sources, track trends, and break news as well as to gather it”

So there it is. Not exactly an editor – more like an evangelist and mentor to the collective editorial wisdom at the NYT. No bad thing at all…. and the holder of this illustrious title is one Jennifer Preston.

As of 27/05/09, Jenifer had over 2500 followers but surprising was only following 165 of us. I guess she’s getting plenty of input and just being selective 🙂 but we should probably all wish her good luck.

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Apple to buy Twitter – really ???

As wild rumours go its right there with the best of them but ….

According to Trusted Reviews (and a heap of less reputable websites)….. “Apple, yes Apple, is apparently locked in “serious negotiations” to buy Twitter for $700m. Quoting a “source who’s plugged into the Valley’s deal scene and has been recruited by Apple for a senior position” ValleyWag claims the duo want to unveil a deal by 8 June in time for WWDC 2009″

The article also points out that

  • Apple has no ad model
  • Apple is hardware and OS focused
  • Apple doesn’t do ‘free’
  • Apple image is slick and expensive- Twitter image is cute and bumbling
  • Twitter has already stated it will not sell for under $1bn

The FT has an equally sceptical position (though from a slightly different angle)

….. and as for me …. I just cant see it but stranger things have happened

Does everything have to do everything nowadays …

Time was when being unique was a bit special; when being different was something to be celebrated. It seems now that when it comes to social networking solutions and tools, everyone just wants to be the same.

A few weeks back facebook announced that they were opening up their status API to “… make sure the ability to share this content was available through our standard APIs….. and opening new APIs for you to post links, create notes, or upload videos etc”. So there you go then, in no way a response to the mega growth of twitter and its impact on the usage of facebook.

Earlier, and in a move that angered many users, LinkedIn added a status element (aka “what are you doing now”) to their offering, mirroring both Twitter and Facebook

Today we hear that social contacts platform Plaxo “…is adding two new stream aggregation features to its stream service Pulse which tries to build a social network around third-party data, allows users to stay connected to their friends’ updates” – sounds familiar.

More worrying though is the conundrum that may soon face many software developers. Is there any value in being unique and developing something new or do you simply just throw something together based on what already exists? What sustainable value is there in being new and first anymore? Don’t get me wrong, mash-ups are cool and many of the best ones work because, through a combination of different solutions and ideas, you actually do create something new. It seems to me though that the current trend in social network solutions is just to do more of the same and shamelessly steal from the competition.

Oh well – looks like everything really does taste like chicken

JMHO

Who really cares about ‘up time’ ?

A Slashdot post caught my eye this morning –

“Twitter Leads Social Networks In Downtime”

“A study on site availability by monitoring service Pingdom shows that in 2008 Twitter greeted users with the ‘Fail Whale’ for more than 84 hours, almost twice as much as any other site. At the other end of the scale imeem and Xanga managed less than 4 hours of downtime for 99.95% uptime. Myspace, Facebook and Classmates.com were the only other sites studied which managed to stay up more than 99.9% of the time.”

Does the old “5 nines” availabity mantra not apply anymore? (BTW, I was never a big fan of that one anyway )and given the ever growing popularity with twitter, it begs the question, are twits just more forgiving than other users of technology / IT solutions ?

Enterprise 2.0

I was fortunate to meet up with Andrew McAfee from Harvard Business School (blog.hbs.edu/faculty/amcafee) last week, discussing the growth of social networking software inside organisations – commonly called Enterprise 2.0 – so I thought I would add some content here on my observations, leanings and views. Most of you will know from my posts on “learning from my kids” and “facebook” that I am quite keen on this topic

About the best definition I can find so far for this stuff is “… the use of existing and emerging social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.” So that basically covers blogs, wikis, content tagging, social networks, RSS etc

As Andrew says

Despite the hype, these are genuinely new technologies which offer the potential for an organisation to be far more effective around innovation, collaboration, knowledge sharing and collective intelligence. Unfortunately the bariers to adoption now seem to be the lack of foresight or draconian policies of the IT department (or maybe even the irrational fears of some CIOs) rather than the willingness of the customers to embrace the solutions on offer.

There are some simple trends that seem to be driving the adoption of E2.0 solutions

  • Software has become simple, social and inclusive. Technology is now actually being used to connect rather than alienate or frustrate people.
  • Network effect – all of these solutions improve with scale so its in the interests of participants to promote use and “market” their new found information and connections
  • “Platforms” are replacing channels – Web 2.0 promotes the move from channels to platforms (email is a 1.0 channel – a one to one conversation that has no interactivity or contribution). In a web 2.0 world the platforms aspire to be universal, visible and open to the broadest possible interaction.
  • Most Web2.0 tools have a distinct lack of upfront structure but they have mechanisms in place that allows structure to emerge. This is a really new (and potentially frightening concept for IT folks) – get out of the way of the customers and almost give them a blank slate. Conventional IT has lots of rules and structure. It slots people into roles, assigns privileges to roles, define workflows and data formats etc. This is not wrong, but applying this approach universally can be barrier to collaboration and innovation. Web 2.0 tools (praticularly inside an enterprise) requires a bit more sublety – segmentation if you will – making sure that the appropriatre tools and services are available to the right people. Wikipedia is a great example of managed collaboration – with great self selection and editing. Del.icio.us allows you to store bookmarks online and share them but people tag their entries, not based on any predefined lists, but entirely on the words they choose themselves.

Adoption Challenges
The biggest challenge for any new solution is usually down to replacing or superceeding what already exists. Email is the most common collaboration tool – however bad we think it is !! – and for anything new there will always be a level of personal evaluation between an incumbent technology and a prospect technology. Remember that customers rarely make rational lists to come to a decision. An existing or incumbent solution is over-weighted – often by a factor of 3 and the new proposition is under-weighted by a similar amount. So new concepts often have to be at least 9x better than existing systems.

So what do I think…
I think Enterprise 2.0 is going to be the difference between innovative and laggard companies. The ones who can embrace and harness the potential from a connected and collaborative organisation will simply be streets ahead of their competritors