Brief: Why This Blog

Why am I starting this blog? In the spirit of Seth Godin’s recent Just One Post I am trying to add just a little bit to the Internet’s fossil record.

I started this blog to focus on the tech industry, entrepreneurship, and business. I want to challenge myself to form stronger opinions and arguments, then share them with a larger community. I am humbled by the quality of some of the blogs I read. I want to develop my ability to communicate at their heightened level.

Soon, I will be moving my content to a permanent home at to a hosted WordPress installation. I am not going to invest much time in developing content (outside of writing posts!) in this temporary situation but I will sport a more complete site once I have my production box up and running. I’m just waiting for some new hardware.

Anyway, stay tuned. More to come shortly.


Don’t Get Tunnel Vision

Sometimes, looking around might just give you your answer. Let me explain.

Recently, I was on my way to meet a friend for a round of golf. Leaving my house I looked over the directions to the course and stored the number and address into my phone. It was going to be 2 hours until I actually went to the course and having a larger ego than cranial capacity, I decided written directions wouldn’t be required. If anything I had the address in my phone, right?

So I run some errands than head to toward the course. As I get off the interstate I fire up my mobile browser to get the finer grain directions that I have already forgotten. No big deal.

Connection error after connection error. Browser after browser. Google Maps app then Microsoft Live Search. They all fail. I have no signal. Great.

Ah, I have the phone number! So I call the clubhouse. I listen to the directions and with each turn I am supposed to make I realize I must be really close.

“Yeah, did that. Ok, just got off that road. Wait did you say take the first right and you’re be a mile up the street?”

I look up from the parking lot where I’m sitting and see a street sign that has been staring at me for the past ten minutes, Lumley Road. I knew that’s where I was supposed to be but I had grow so dependent, stubborn, and used to my digital way of doing things that I didn’t even look up to see I had already arrived. Tunnel vision.

Don’t get so buried in your set ways of doing things that you lose sight of all of your resources. I grew reliant on my mobile lifestyle. I wasted ten minutes and sweat in 100 degree weather for my error. Don’t make my mistake. Occasionally, all you have to do is look up.

Fickle Facebook Friends

Paul Kedrosky has noted Facebook user’s fickle adoption of the new third-party applications. Like any user-centric platform users can easily add or remove an application. This does lead to a high level of tire-kicking as Paul mentioned. What developers can expect then is an audience that approaches adoption with a try-before-I-buy mentality. In other words, the Facebook crowd is a savvy user base, fearless but harsh.

Therefore, when developers are planning for and designing their F8 strategy, it is important to remember what the platform was originally designed to do. Just read the home screen, “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you” (emphasis theirs). Facebook has done an amazing job with this charge. They have created a site that organizes friendships into a consumable product but most importantly they have allowed users the ability to express and extend their personality online. This is what keeps socialites glued to Facebook day in and day out.

A successful Facebook application will help to extend the user’s online presence. Whether it means providing a service that allows friends to add updates to a user’s profile (therefore reinforcing and augmenting the friendship) or increasing the opportunity for a user to express their individuality, applications that stick will understand and harness the behavior pattern of Facebook users.

All of the widely used applications do this. Applications with lasting adoption include the deeply-integrated feature-rich iLike, to the less serious Graffiti and SuperPoke, each complementing the user’s expectations of the network.

To win on Facebook, understand the network as a social facilitator, the user as an individual, and friends as reinforcers. Use these ideas in the way demonstrated by thriving in-house applications (e.g. photos, wall, and groups) and create real value within the network for a lasting business opportunity.

Getting back to the original point, users are quickly being bombarded with new applications, many of them adaptations of websites pigeonholed to the F8 Platform. What we see is these applications failing to gain widespread usage. Users rapidly evaluate a new application and determine it’s worth compared to canonical Facebook products.

Does your application help a person tell something about them self? Does your application help friends be friends? Don’t just dump content on their profile and think it will stay. In fact you shouldn’t want static content, encourage interactivity! Design for the platform, create a viral strategy, and keep your application in the user’s profiles.