Warm Fuzzies: The Web as Random Acts of Kindness


The Future is All About Conext: The Pragmatic Web

I guest posted this week for ReadWriteWeb:

The semantic Web has long been heralded as the future of the Web. Proponents have said that Web experiences will some day become more meaningful and relevant based on the AI-esque computational power of natural-language processing (NLP) and structured data that is understandable by machines for interpretation.

However, with the rise of the social Web, we see that what truly makes our online experiences meaningful is not necessarily the Web's ability to approximate human language or to return search results with syntactical exactness. The value of the semantic Web will take time because the intelligent personal agents that are able to process this structured data still have a long way to go before becoming fully actualized.

Rather, meaningful and relevant experiences now are born out of the context of our identities and social graph: the pragmatics, or contextual meaning, of our online identities. My Web experience becomes more meaningful and relevant to me when it is layered with contextual social data based on my identity. This is the pragmatic Web.

Read the rest at ReadWriteWeb


Checkin' the Archives: A Hisotry of the Internet

An oldie but goodies infographic explanation of the history of the internet...


Glenn Beck: Net Neutrality is a Marxist Plot

This makes my blood boil....and Glenn, like most media has no idea what net neutrality is. Will someone please stop this misinformation megalomaniac? 4chan? Anyone?


Pulp Fiction Explains Google Wave

Happy Waving


semiotics, man


On Activity Streams

@dataportability #activitystreams


Know Your Meme: FAIL

While the FAIL meme is none too knew (particularly by internet standards of time)...still enjoy Rocketboom's "Know Your Meme" and the evolution of FAIL


TAT Augmented ID = Holy Awesome


Not All Agencies Are Filled With Douchebags

Clever girl...


Who Says the Viral Stunt is Dead?


Then and Now



US CTO Aneesh Chopra Discusses Administration's Technology Priorities



TweatFreak, 50 to Follow

Well, another "who to follow on Twitter" list! Sadly, I have been somewhat MIA due to (gasp! client work!) from both Twitter AND dear old Socialized...never fear, I'm returning slowly, working out some new thoughts that hopefully won't be overly boring, pedantic or irrelevant (that's all we can hope for, no?). Well here it is, as Jon Stewart would say, you're moment of zen...or the 50 people to follow on Twitter (according to AdWeek's TweatFreak)...yours truly is #2, although, ahem, its in alphabetical order!:

@adbroad Helen Klein Ross. Partner at Supporting Characters and writer of the Ad Broad blog and the @bettydraper Twitter account. Well versed in social media as both an adviser and a practitioner.

@alisamleo Alisa Leonard-Hanson. Social-media strategist at iCrossing. For the tech-minded, a strategist very focused on the issue of data portability and what it means for marketing.

@armano David Armano, former vp of experience design, Critical Mass, now heading to Dachis Corp. Heavy focus on the ins and outs of social media.

@awolk Alan Wolk. Creative strategist, industry pundit and occasional play-by-play man at Little League games.

Lars Bastholm. Chief creative digital officer at Ogilvy and a man unafraid to tweet from his hospital bed.

@bbhlabs Ben Malbon. Director of BBH Labs. Strategies for the digital world.

@benkunz Ben Kunz. Director of strategic planning at Mediassociates. Witty industry commentary with a willingness to call BS on social-media marketing gone awry.

@BestBuyCMO Barry Judge, CMO, Best Buy. Insights from the client side.

@BogusBogusky The imagined life of the Crispin Porter + Bogusky creative leader.

@cshirky Clay Shirky. New-media pundit, professor and prophet of doom for traditional media.

@dabitch Åsk Wäppling. The force behind Adland, the mother of all advertising blogs.

@davidburn David Burn. Self-described "content machine" and writer of the AdPulp blog. Indefatigable chronicler of all things advertising, journalism and entertainment.

Doug Chavez. Senior manager of digital marketing at Del Monte. A client with agency chops. Also a frenetic triathlete.

Edward Boches, chief creative officer at Mullen. A full-fledged Twitter convert ready to share and interact on ad topics.

Faris Yakob, chief technology strategist, McCann Erickson. All things interactive.

Fernanda Romano. Global creative director for digital and experiential advertising at Euro RSCG.

Rich Ting. Ecd, mobile and emerging media/applications group, R/GA. A mobile guru who even has his infant daughter using Twitter through an RFID contraption.

Fred Wilson, partner at Union Square Ventures. An early Twitter investor, Wilson is a venture capitalist with a recent knack for spotting technology and media trends.

Hugh MacLeod. Cartoonist, business thinker and author of the forthcoming book Ignore Everybody.

@heif Scott Heifferman. CEO, Meetup. An advertising skeptic and true believer in real-life communities.

@HighJive HighJive. Self-described "conqueror of cultural cluelessness" and author of the MultiCultClassics blog.

@iboy George Nimeh. An American based in London as managing director at Iris Digital. Unafraid of the f-bomb.

@ischafer Ian Schafer. CEO of Deep Focus and ubiquitous Internet ad pundit.

@jeffjarvis Jeff Jarvis. Journalist, customer-support agitator, author of What Would Google Do? and BuzzMachine and believer that "advertising is failure."

@jetpacks Dave Wilkie. Advertising "hack" and author of the Where's My Jetpack? blog.

Jordan Kretchmer. Vp of brand, The Current Network. Became a Twitter ad legend with his decision to open up the brand's RFP process through Twitter.

@joemarchese Joe Marchese, CEO of Social Vibe. The startup's CEO dissects the social scene and gives insight on getting agencies on board with his company’s melding of social marketing and charity.

@johnbattelle John Battelle, CEO, Federated Media. Thoughts about social media and search.

@karllong Karl Long. Experience Curve blogger and T-shirt connoisseur.

@katrinalimbaugh Katrina Limbaugh. Director of communications for Zig. A good mix of ad links with minimal agency self-promo.

Leigh Householder, associate strategy director at Ologie. Author of the Advergirl blog, she offers a mishmash of personal and professional with an emphasis on social media and brands.

@luckthelady Angela Natividad. Blogger for Adrants. Best described as a "skeptical optimist," she delivers marketing news (and life lessons) with personality and panache.

@MackCollier Mack Collier. Social-media consultant. Digital media insight without the douchebaggery. His down-to-earth perspectives make him one of the more respected consultants on the speaker circuit.

Ann Handley. Chief content officer at Marketing Profs. A dose of marketing wisdom without the annoying side effects of the punditocracy.

@markwnek Mark Wnek. Chairman and chief creative officer of Lowe New York and one of the more active "traditional" ad guys on Twitter.

@MCHammer Hammer. Rapper, pastor and Internet celebrity devoted to the networking and marketing power of Twitter and its ability to shorten the distance between entertainer and consumer.

Tom Ajello. Founding partner, Poke New York. A tech enthusiast and occasional fist-bumper who preaches building things that advertise rather than advertising.

Mike Arauz Strategist at Undercurrent. Chronicles the latest and greatest in Web culture without the Digg nerd factor.

@mtlb Bill Green. "Idea guy" for Plaid and the force behind the Make the Logo Bigger blog. A quirky, comprehensive look at the world of advertising and social media.

@nicknotned Nick Denton. CEO of Gawker Media. The blog impresario (or "gossip merchant," as his bio says) began using the service again just last month after a nearly yearlong hiatus.

Morning anchor on NYC news station NY1 and the editorial force behind Pat's Papers, an insightful and amusing daily summary of U.S. news headlines. Joined Twitter fairly recently but got up to speed in a New York minute.

@pblackshaw Pete Blackshaw. Evp of digital strategic services at Nielsen Online. Tweets about the quest for buzz online.

@revbillytalen Reverend Billy. Pastor of the Church of Stop Shopping and preacher that advertising has made the world worse, not better.

@rgleeson Renny Gleeson. Global director of digital strategies at Wieden + Kennedy. Unafraid to share his music choices via Blip.fm.

@spikejones Spike Jones, firestarter at Brains on Fire. The resident Twitter curmudgeon, frequently unimpressed by social media stalwarts.

@tombed Tom Bedecarré. CEO of AKQA. The rare agency CEO who comes across as somewhat normal on Twitter. Admirable restraint in self-promotion.

@umairh Umair Haque. Director of Havas Media Lab who ponders the new rules for brands in the "edgeconomy."

@vinnywarren Vinny Warren. Owner of The Escape Pod, creator of "Whassup campaign. Insight on the digital world from an old-school creative.

@whatsnext BL Ochman. A consultant and social-media savant who actually knows what she's talking about.

@woodlandalyssa Consumer/tech/travel publicist and prolific observer of the NYC media world.


on internetting

-- Benjamin Kunkel on the pleasures and pitfalls of internetting, for the n+1 Book Review


Data.Gov is Live!

I have been a rather poor blogger lately....alas, too much client work and travel and perhaps a little too much laze. Working on a few posts, in the meantime, Data.Gov is live! Check it out...back to the blogging soon!


Holy Freak-- Google Wave Seeking an Open, Socially Contextual Web

Google announced a new open source protocol, Wave, they will be rolling out later this year providing "a new model for communication and collaboration across the web"-- i.e. integrating social context (communication) and interaction with documents and apps (collaboration). Google's description below:

What is a wave?

- A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

- A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.

- A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

As you can imagine the DataPortability Project is very excited to learn more about this project and are seeking input from the developer community to better understand its relevance to data portability and the future web (social context, anyone?)

Below is a longish video (1 hour plus) of Vic Gundotra, VP of engineering at Google, introducing Wave at Google IO:


My HOLY FREAK Moment: Facebook + OpenID

So my good friend over at Silicon Alley Insider discovered my Facebook status proclaiming my shock at Facebook's actual adoption of OpenID (the rumors had been swirling for a while, but I never thought I'd see it happen). Now, to Nick's point in the article, he wasn't exactly clear on what all the fuss was about other than it's a new "handy feature" for logging into Facebook.

My response as found in the article's comments as to why there's all the fuss:

"Hey nick...thanks for the shout out....i can understand the 'its neat but not big news" POV...but if you buy that value of data portability, this is a big move for that. Granted, I actually totally agree with Joe...

@Joe Weisenthal...OpenID is too geeky for the non-geek user (no one gets using a URL instead of an email as an identifier) but nevertheless, the simple fact that Facebook took this step is amazing from a (potential) data access standpoint. I remember hearing rumblings a while ago about FB supporting OpenID but never thought I'd see it happen. However, as far as open standard identity services go, OpenID is the current "leader"...but

to @bojan babic's point, yes, FBC was a great step in allowing for interoperability and identity data portability, but FBC fails to leverage any kind of standards (as to be expected). I'm not entirely sure why FB would pass the leading role to OpenID, I'll have to see exactly what Zuck said about it, but my initial guess is that it has to do with the data portability community pushing for standards for identity, relationship and activity data markup and the interoperability of that data...if FB is going to stay in the game once our identities become decentralized, they are going to have to start embracing open standards....but again, I could be just speaking obtusely here.

PS- more on data portability at the www.DataPortabilityProject.org"


Status Updates (Infographically) Explained

Is there any other way to explain things other than infographically?

Status updates explained from quub.com on Vimeo.



Making The Business Case for Data Portability & Media

Elias Bizannes, Co-founder and Vice Chair of the DataPortability Project makes the case for data portability and how interoperability is a win-win situation for digital media companies:

Read more of his thoughts on the information value chain and how it underlines the business case for data portability, brilliant stuff!


on data

Just a little saying that my team hears me say way too much...


just a reminder from the horse's mouth

-Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving The Web

Be Nice or Leave: Faris Yakob = Awesome

Just when I think I'm going to rip my hair out and keel over from the sheer boredom of benign "social media" conversations that reverberate oh so loudly within the blasted echo chamber...I remember to call on my friend Faris's blog...and like always, he never fails to deliver. I love you Faris!


YouTube + Facebook Connect Update

So after a brief conversation with the Google/YouTube folks, I found out that apparently YouTube is not supporting Facebook Connect as a login option for YouTube across the board. The Sprite "Green Eyed World" brand channel is using Facebook Connect by embedding an app as an iFrame in the channel page, as my colleague Matt Schultz discovered upon further investigation. And apparently any siting of Facebook Connect on YouTube is a one-off implementation at the brand page level.

Still, as YouTube mentioned, you would need to work directly with them when enabling your brand channel with Facebook Connect. I feel like YouTube is definitely hedging at something here...certainly rolling out universal support for Facebook Connect across YouTube a la Vimeo would be a giant move for both Facebook and YouTube, not to mention how it might threaten the movement for decentralized data portability. Certainly Google with its Friend Connect initiative that uses open standards to enable portability would lose traction should YouTube support FBC. But who knows? Will wait and see...


Twitter Enters the Data Portability Ring

Twitter has now entered the data portability ring with Sign in With Twitter, using open standard OAuth for user authentication. It was only a matter of time until they joined in the data portability rounds, and now most of the mainstream news covering the announcement is already touting a Facebook Connect vs. Sign in with Twitter war. Is it though? Frankly, I think all of the major players attempting data "portability" ("accessibility" is probably more appropriate, and accurate) is a GREAT thing, and not necessarily a war-- yet.

Its not a war yet because the biggest challenge to data portability is still that it is largely a very geeky concept. Believe me, mention "data portability" to any of your friends and you'll likely get blank stares. But, with the advent of the major social services providing what average users perceive as "login capability on 3rd party sites," you begin the slow process of passively educating users on the idea that their services online need not be siloed, that they can access them and the personal data they contain, from anywhere online. As they become used to being able to access one service or another, and the identity and relationship data housed in those services, from 3rd party sites, then you begin to train their behavior and perception of what their online experience is and should be (a completely portable, remixable one).

So, for now, I welcome any and all players in the field to start and test their own data portability initiatives. Will we eventually reach an apex in the war between open vs. closed? Certainly, but again, much like the AOL analogy, open networks will always win out.

As my colleague Jayson Phillips just tweeted:

"@alisamleo competition breeds recognition, which shall hopefully breed adoption. Which, in turn, should lead to data access innovation"

Quite right!


SNL On Direct Marketing...Awesome

SNL Direct Mail Marketers Alliance



The Now Network

I know this is old, but kudos to Sprint for all the cool data viz....and while I used to be a Sprint customer, I switched over to AT&T, alas, because of the bloody iPhone...

the new content, the new king


Twas Only A Matter of Time: Facebook Connect + YouTube

I have talked a lot about Facebook Connect here Socialized. I believe its one of the initial step towards data portability (from a consumer perspective, not a development one) and is indicative of the future of "social media"-- that is to say, every site and service online with have social context and connectedness through the interoperability of user identity (and relationship) data.

Now Facebook can put another feather in its Connect cap with YouTube now implementing Facebook Connect (thanks to my buddy Nicholas Carlson over at Silicon Alley Insider for alerting me), at least on its sponsored pages. Will be interesting to watch FBC develop, as it is speculated that they will back an ad network into Facebook Connect by the end of the year or once they have a solid network of particpiatory sites and services. Couple FBC into content-rich YouTube and both parties may just hit their revenue sweet spot if you consider how valuable FB user and behavioral data can fuel YouTube's advertising options. Just something to keep your eye on...

PS- a little birdie at Facebook mentioned that said FBC ad network has been on the table over at Facebook, but that an ad network isn't likely in the next 6 months...now with YouTube implementing FBC, we may see it sooner than later...


The "Search and Social Synergy" Post: Re-think Visibility

So as a "social media strategist" (I know, I know) who was not born out of the practices of SEO, but rather from a research background in emerging Web technologies, I have long cringed at the "search and social synergy" promises touted by search engine types (that is to say that social activity increases visibility in search engines). Why you ask? Certainly activity in social media produces benefits of creating visibility in search engines, and you will find many an article and blog post on just how to use Twitter or blogging or YouTubing to increase visibility in search. And that's all very well indeed...but I take issue with the notion that visibility in search engines = visibility period.

While we know search engines are vital touch points (indeed, usually the first touch point of the majority of online sessions), we would be remiss to assume that this is the only place where visibility matters. Indeed, it is in social spaces that people "live" online...endlessly traversing an ecosystem of social spaces-- an ecosystem in which content and links are exchanged as currency.

So what of visibility in social spaces? Building visibility in these spaces is developed through active, ongoing participation (that is relevant and useful)-- and not simply through the oft-SEO driven tactic of simply pushing content and seeking to link build.

So let's re-think our notion of visibility....visibility in engines and in social spaces. The first of course, being visible when and where there is specific intention to find information and the second, being visible for unintentional, or passive discovery. Certainly the two work in tandem, but the approach to building visibility in these two core areas are very different. Visibility in social spaces comes through building real social equity, or network influence, as gained through timely, useful (real value exchange) and relevant engagement over the long haul.

Lets think about being Visible in these two ways:

Discovery with intent = visibility in engines

Discovery without intent = visibility in social spaces

Both are key.

Am I sounding like the echo chamber? Perhaps...but hey, I think its worth it for us to keep discussing...


ya know...


"Why Facebook Can't Succeed" is Missing the Point

Edmund Lee recently wrote a post on The Big Money entitled "Why Facebook Can't Succeed: Letting readers call all the shots is great for community but bad for business" in which he supposes that Facebook's lack of revenue is somehow tied to their "habit" of bending to the will of their users, to quote:

Facebook, the world's largest social network, suffered under the tyranny of its own users in early February after the company rewrote its long-standing terms of service. Many members interpreted the revised rules to mean that the company would own every bit of uploaded ephemera, resulting in closed accounts and a rash of anti-Facebook groups—on Facebook. Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg clarified the company's position, but users wouldn't budge, many commenting with the same four words: "Delete my account, please." After three days, Facebook reinstated the original terms.

What does this signify other than the usual digital shriek so often found on Web sites everywhere? Just this: Social networks are doomed to fail. At least Facebook is, so long as it continues on its current path. By heeding to the objections of its grumbling users, Facebook has essentially painted itself into a revenue corner.

Dear Mr. Lee, I respectfully disagree.

First, we need to forget “social networks”....Facebook is a DATABASE. Pure and simple. Facebook Connect? Merely an attempt (none too disguised) to remix their database data into a revenue stream (hence, my speculation about a FBC ad network). Secondly, I continue to be appalled at journalist’s inability to know the difference between, and the significance of, Facebook’s perpetual LICENSE to do WHATEVER they want with user data vs. ownership of said data (OWNERSHIP IS A RED HERRING).

So, “why Facebook can’t succeed”? Well, it has little to do with advertising....if they don’t succeed it will be because they fail to 1) admit to themselves (which I know they have) and publicly that they are in fact a database (they use lots of fancy rhetoric around bridging consumers and marketers and really, they are selling “data” but through the interstitial layer of advertising) and 2) monetize like a database...ie: sell data.

He also makes the claim that Facebook won’t succeed due to bending to the will of Facebook users. Not so. Again, they really didn’t change ANYTHING about the TOS after the outcry. They simply were effective at misdirection. They made the issue about OWNERSHIP (which its not) and therefore they still retain that all-encompassing license! And everyone thinks its all fixed. ALSO...people hate the new redesign. Zuck’s response? “Get over it.” Not exactly bending to the will of the masses. Facebook has never actually bent to their community’s will....they simply have been very good at making it seem as if they have. And what else would you expect from a company’s who’s board members are ex-DARPA directors? :)


Questions for Facebook I Wasn't Allowed to Ask

I recently had the opportunity to interview Facebook's Product Marketing Manager, Kasey Galang. Kasey was conducting a workshop, "Harnassing the Social Graph," at SES New York a few weeks ago and obliged me with some insight into Facebook's marketing products. While I appreciated the interview, I did not get the chance to ask the questions I REALLY wanted to....so for the genericized, Facebook-approved interview, read here. The questions I really wish Facebook would answer?

1) Facebook has made a lot of shifts over the past year, most notably the latest move towards a more streams-based application. Do you believe "streams" are the future of the social Web?

2) Facebook announced Facebook Connect for iPhone apps at SXSW. There seem to be a lot of game-based applications utilizing FBC, can you comment on some other exciting, non-game based implementations of FBC for iPhone coming up?

3) It seems that an Facebook Connect Ad Network is a logical step for the platform, and I noticed that FBC is listed under the “Advertising” options page. Can we expect such and ad network to roll out?

4) I’m not going to ask about the TOS hubbub, but what does Facebook think about creating an environment that provides value exchange between end users and vendors with Facebook providing that platform and brokering the data from which they could derive revenue?

5) We have heard that Facebook is committed to supporting open standards, is there a plan for Facebook to support OpenID login in the near future?


On Facebook's Re-Design: Its About Formatting Data

So, just bouncing some thoughts out there after a healthy discussion with colleagues about the impetus for, and value in the Facebook re-design. Popular opinion is that the re-design was based on 1) "competing" with Twitter and/or 2) to make Facebook's Business Page offering more desirable as it now functions more like a "profile" and allows activity updates to be fed to Fan feeds.

These may both be secondary and tertiary reasons, but I think the re-design was largely based on the need to better structure and render Facebook data, to prep it for portability and interoperability. While standardized markup for identity, activity and relationships, and universal adoption of those standards, are still major works in progress, there seems to be a move toward how identity and graph data are rendered and consumed within applications. That Facebook's re-design looks like an attempt to"Twitterize" is not so much an issue of "competition" as it is Facebook recognizing that "activity streams" seem to be becoming a standard for rendering social context. If Facebook is going to be participatory in the open social Web where data portability becomes a norm, the social context that data portability ostensibly will provide will, I think, begin to appear in a standardized way. Think how email now appears in a standardize format...while different email providers may vary slightly in how email data appears (folders, filing systems), the overall appearance is mostly similar-- there is a standardized format for "inbox." Similarly, we are seeing a standardized format for activity streams, or more broadly, just what "social context" actually looks like. The future = a paradigm of "streams."

when context is key

....to be exact, the context social graph data and activity exchange provides is king


Did You Know? #Future! Post

Awesome vid for your Wednesday afternoon....so many stats to sink your teeth into..is it the #Future yet?

[via Infosthetics]

...And more #Future!


Chis Anderson on The Future is Free from SXSW Q&A with Guy Kawasaki


Happy Thursday

Some fluff to clear my head after SXSW and coming home to tackle my ballistic inbox. A reading of Hugh MacLeod's Tweets by Marcus Brown, enjoy

Official Tweet Reading VIII: Hugh MacLeod from Marcus Brown on Vimeo.


Tim Berners-Lee TED Talk on Linked Data

Finally! His much talked about TED talk on linked data is online...enjoy



I'm out in Austin for SXSW this week...will mostly be live-tweeting events, follow me at @alisamleo for updates. I'll be posting on the panels and events both here and on the iCrossing Great Finds blog...stay tuned!




I have been very reluctant to blog about Skittlegate....too many voices reverberating in the echo chamber and enough so to make one head's spin. But after being called out a few times, I'd like to share just a few thoughts on why I think Skittles.com deserves more than simple dismissal as a failure....

I like Skittles.com-- not for the tactical execution but for challenging the notion of what it means to be a brand online, or what an online brand presence is or could be.

The Twitter echo chamber is crying "copy cat!" because Modernista already did something similar, but to focus on that is a red herring. It mattereth not that someone did something similar or "did it before." Its about the concept and pushing boundaries beyond our comfort zone. Should we not make branded YouTube channels because "its already been done"? (caveat, there are lots of reason to or not to build a branded YouTube channel, this was just for argument's sake)

Have we gotten so bristled that we relish in stamping out experimentation before it has a chance to evolve from its early sloppy, ugly stages?

Is Skittles.com all that novel or innovative? Does it follow all the tenets of “engaging in social media”? No. But frankly, that’s not the point. Getting us past our singular view of what it means to have a brand presence online is going be sloppy and ugly… but better to get our hands dirty than stay in one place.

I get it, I get all the reasons why it FAILS...but can we offer up solutions on what would make it WIN? Its easy (and lazy and sloppy) to find fault, but lets put this collective brain power to work on what could be, not what is wrong.

And yes, I am completely guilty of trashing experimentation. A while ago I wrongly lambasted Razorfish for their JC Penney Facebook Connect microsite. Do I now think the implementation/execution of that site was great? Not necessarily, but they were the first out of the gate to experiment with the exciting new FBC API and that alone deserves major kuddos.

The course of ego-infused criticism will not help us move forward. Challenging what we know, what we're used to is not always that fun. And yes, its going to be messy, ill-conceived and poorly executed at times. But what a wonderful chance we have with the Twitter community and beyond to use our collective intelligence to promote new ideas and constructive feedback that does not stifle or silence experimentation, but rather celebrates and guides it. What do you say?

My Social Graph is Getting Weird

Instead of boring you with pontificating over what Skittlegate means...I thought I'd share something a bit more universal. You know, it seems lately as though you're getting the weirdest Facebook friend requests, right? Its generally random people from high school or friends or friends...and well, your social graph is getting just plain WEIRD, right?

Jeremy Fuksa takes us on a little journey through the WTF friending land of Facebook. Enjoy! (hey, and maybe eat some Skittles while you're at it)

My Social Graph Is Getting Weird from Jeremy Fuksa:Creative Generalist on Vimeo.


ERA OF NETWORK: Data, Networks, Contagion, Oh My!

Physicist Albert-László Barabási and social-political scientist James Fowler discuss the nature of our networked culture, the value of online network user data, and asks is society ultimately turning inward?

Seedmagazine.com The Seed Salon

"...as a social scientist, I'm always asking, 'Why do people do stuff?' So for me, what is most amazing about networks is that they completely transform the way we think about data. For a really long time, we've thought about individuals as though they were islands — a Robinson Crusoe model of social science. Being able to integrate information — not just about people, but about their relationships — is something that's completely new. The rise of online social networks in the past few years has been very important in this respect. Now we can ask, 'What's happening in that whole complex set of relationships that we could never learn by looking at just each individual?'" --James Fowler

"Social networks have also given us a new cache of hard data so we're no longer talking so abstractly about networks...."
--Albert-László Barabási

"...the great thing about these massive, passive data sets is that we're going to have really deep information about a very, very large number of people."

Japan: Robot Nation

I know this is long (25 minutes) but its an interesting documentary from Current TV on Japan's economically-destructive population decline and the rise of creating and assimilating robots to compensate:


In Flux: Identity and the Role of Brand

Great video by Amanda Mooney....happy Wednesday!



Because Your Data Is $$

Some people have claimed that user data on Facebook is worthless (silly people). I recently wrote a post for Mashable on how Facebook could build a revenue model by essentially selling even anonymized user data. Silicon Alley Insider then posted about this same idea. Commenters to the SA post clearly didn't get that what they view as "useless" or frivolous Facebook data is in fact extremely rich and valuable trend data-- worth a lot of money to marketers, government entities, and private enterprises.

Its the value of our data that incenses me so much over the current Facebook TOS hubbub. Its not enough to say "Facebook doesn't own your data" when the license we grant them is so wholly encompassing so as to allow full usage of user data as if they did own it.

That everyone is somehow claiming victory over this because Facebook reverted to the old TOS is to completely miss the point. That license agreement is so over-arching as to dwarf any other service's TOS. Think about it.

And one more thing...I know what you're thinking, "nothing is private on the internet, so who cares?" Right? Well, consider this, Facebook data is not fragmented, unstructured data across the internet. Data in Facebook is structured, segmentable, historical, and therefore sellable. And the license agreement in both the old and the new TOS gives them the right to do so.

And lastly, Facebook, if you DO want to build a revenue model on selling user data, pay your suppliers. Users should get a cut or reward for supplying data, as outlined in this post on Mashable. You essentially could become a Vendor Relationship Management system in which we users enjoyed some kind of value exchange (beyond getting to use the Facebook service itself) for supplying you with such rich consumer data.

Facebook's "About Face"

(please note: this vid briefly touches on the complex topic of Vendor Relationship Management (VRM), and does not give justice to the complexity of this theory or undertaking, nor was it meant to. VRM is a corollary to some of the issues facing FB with regards to the topic of consumer control over their own valuable data, and is only mentioned here as a brief note).

Well, after a firestorm of activity yesterday that bubbled up from the blogosphere around Facebook's change to their TOS, Facebook announced today a return to the old Terms of Service. They posted an announcement on the Facebook homepage that reads:

"Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities."

While this certainly is another display of the power of social media and the voice of the people to drive change....there are still several lingering questions I have that this "about face" does not appease, largely because all of this is clever misdirection by Facebook's PR team. Some questions:

1. Firstly, why didn't Facebook notify users of the change to the TOS in the first place, through a homepage notice like the one they posted today recanting the changes to said TOS?

2. Facebook made a point to address the issues in the new TOS from the standpoint of who "owns" User Content. They clarified that Facebook does not "own" User Content. But ownership IS NOT THE POINT. The unnerving thing about the new TOS was how absolute and all-encompassing the LICENSING agreement was. To put it another way, Facebook was mandating a perpetual license for UGC, meaning they can do whatever they want for as long as they want, and so can the content owner. Read:

"You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof."

Facebook then went on to say that they apologize and that the new TOS was only intended to clarify the old TOS. This is hardly satisfactory. The new TOS, again, was so far-reaching that is was a clear departure from the old TOS, aimed at asserting an amazing amount of control over the use of User Content and data. Blogger Amanda French also took the time to compare that new TOS with other popular services' TOS's including Flickr and MySpace, and concluded that Facebook's new TOS was extraoridnarily far-reaching compared to these others'.

And lastly, Facebook....why can't you simply explain what your intention was with the new TOS licensing agreement? There is such a stark contrast between the new and the old that simple "clarification" is certainly not all there is to the story.

And one more time....this is not about ownership. Data use is just as important as data ownership and this licensing issue has yet to be explained.

Eveybody's weigh-in?


Eames: A Communications Primer

Its a little known fact that I'm a huge design fanatic...and am particularly partial to mid-century luminaries Ray and Charles Eames. So, as a respite from the Facebook TOS fury, enjoy their 1953 short film, "A Communications Primer"

Facebook TOS Update

UPDATE from previous post...

Since yesterday, there have been several new additions to this saga, including a mediocre "response" by Zuckerberg himself in which he states:

"Our philosophy is that people own their information and control who they share it with." He goes on to assure users that, "In reality, we wouldn't share your information in a way you wouldn't want."

This response was picked up by several news outlets, including CNET who seemed to think this clarified the whole issue.

Sweet, Facebook doesn't "own" our content. We already knew that. And its not what concerns me about the new TOS...

Here is my issue-- this is NOT about content ownership. The fact that Zuckerberg's and every other Facebook response addresses "User Content is exempt from ownership claims" is somewhat of a red herring. Ownership over content is not the issue. Its about the all-encompassing licensing. The licensing agreement is so over-arching that "ownership" becomes irrelevant because you basically grant Facebook the ability to use your content in whatever way they want, including the right to sublicense! Lets read it again:

"You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof."

So, some key questions for Facebook:

1. Why weren’t FB users notified of the significant changes either via a message or notice on the homepage?

2. The termination clause was deleted, why?

3. Where is the intellectual property rights clause from the old TOS and how is that affected in the new TOS?

4. As per the licensing clause, does this mean to include any User Content that is posted by a brand, including any trademarked or copyrighted materials as owned by the brand? Essentially, are you saying that brands agree to license material to Facebook with which they can do anything with, including sublicense it?

Follow the debate on Twitter
And check out the Consumerist follow-up which includes links to a side by side comparison of other TOS's, and blogger Kent Davidson's rebuttal to Zuckerberg's response


Conundrum: Media Companies and Social Media

Recently, I attended a panel at Social Media Week New York on "Building a Media Company From Scratch"-- ostensibly a discussion on how social media has impacted the lightening-fast rise of Tina Brown's The Daily Beast. Moderated by the brilliant Faris Yakob, the panel proved entertaining and interesting as it promised:

Management from the Daily Beast (Caroline Marks, Bryan Keefer and Debbie Fink) and Colin Nagy (Attention), join moderator Faris Yakob from McCann NY to talk about the site's conception, the process of building a media brand from scratch, and also the role of social media in building awareness and driving traffic.

The panelists pointed out that Daily Beast is not so much an aggregator of news and content as it is a curator of content (well put). Another interesting lesson for media companies is the Daily Beast's practice of publishing compelling user comments as content itself. Colin Nagy, of Attention, discussed briefly their efforts in distributing content and links to bloggers and across relevant social networks (including maintaining a Facebook Page and Twitter feed) for the purpose of driving traffic and optimizing content distribution.

This is the part that got me. This, of course, is what all social media strategist espouse (free the content! Let it live where users live, where attention is already aggregated!). And while this is true, allow me to play devil's advocate for a sec:

As a general rule of thumb, in the social Web all brands need to be content producers in order to have relevancy and be able to "engage" with consumers...as opposed to simply leveraging advertising assets. But unlike media companies, these brands have a distinct advantage with leveraging social media through content production precisely because their business models do not revolve around monetizing said content. Rather, the content serves many purposes from raising awareness, shifting perception, building loyalty, etc. Therefore, the content can live in many different social spaces (so long as they are relevant, useful, etc) without the pressure of needing to convert the attention in those spaces to traffic and attention elsewhere (i.e. a site monetized with ads). As a brand, I can host all kinds of content on my Facebook Page and not worry as much about converting eyeballs to my homepage because I am happy to leverage that content for brand building and creating loyalists through Facebook. A media company, however does not have this same luxury.

The paradox lies in this: As content becomes increasingly channel-agnostic (due in large part to, and perpetuated by, social media) and the demand for ubiquitous content across multiple channels and services rises-- media companies find themselves in increasingly precarious positions as ultimately, their business models are extremely channel-dependent.

Look at the Daily Beast: they are setting their content free, to some degree. They distribute through Facebook, through Twitter etc...but at the end of the day, their "audience" is the one that traffics to their site and pays the bills (not necessarily all those engaging with them in Facebook). At the end of the day, the attention in those social spaces needs to convert to traffic and attention on The Daily Beast site itself. And while social spaces do provide that kind of conversion, driving traffic tends to be a secondary or even tertiary result of social distribution and engagement.

Thoughts? Brevity is not well with me today....

Facebook: All Your Data Are Belong to Us

For anyone using Facebook, and important notice:

As per the new TOS for Facebook...all content and data (YOUR content and data) on Facebook.com servers is now owned under the auspice of an all-encompassing licensing agreement with FB that doesn't expire even if you quit. They even retain the right to sublicense your content. Even if you take content down, if its been archived on their servers they can still use it.

This, of course, has everything to do the Facebook Connect (obvs)--- especially since they just lifted the 24-hour caching limit of 3rd party sites

Read: FBC -enabled sites can now (probably) store, display and use your data too.

But here's an important question I have...what about all the brands on Facebook? Will they have special concessions made here? Surely Facebook cannot claim the right to use copyrighted, branded material forever and forever in any manner they may so choose? Can they?

Granted, most people don't read the TOS of every service they use online...and generally I'm all about Free the Data! But this is not "freeing" anything, its simply giving more control to FB and once again, the end user cannot capitalize on their very valuable data (and lets be real, for all intense and purposes, its your identity data). So here's one very important part of the new TOS:

"You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof." ("post on or in connection with the Facebook Service = FBC sites)


"You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content."

"The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other."

So....GOOD NEWS FOR FACEBOOK CONNECT ENABLED SITES and realizing full potential to leverage FB user data in content serving, product merchandising (and can we say a Facebook Connect ad-network makse even more sense now?)....BAD NEWS FOR USERS...

Next stop...maybe they WILL start selling our data as one, er,blogger has proposed...


A Perfect Quote from Antony Mayfield

is my esteemed colleague at iCrossing and blogs about social media at Open


From the Horse's Mouth: Tim Berners-Lee on the Semantic (Data) Web

Still awaiting footage of his TED talk on this same issue, so this year-old video will have to suffice in the meantime. If you're ever wondering what the vision and hub-bub of ubiquitous data access is all about:

...Looking beyond the current landscape of APIs to the data Web


Now We're Talking: Peered Data Portability

Excellent, excellent new post by Data Portability Workgroup founder, Chris Saad on the future of data portability and why Open Standards is only the means, and not the focal-point end. Essentially, as Saad points out, what we conceive of as data portability right now through Facebook Connect (data portability on training wheels) is a hub-and-spoke model that ultimately puts the power and control over the accessibility of one's data in centralized, commercialized hands. As Chris explains:

"The problem, however, is that it (the hub-and-spoke model, i.e. Facebook Connect) has a central point of control, failure and commercialization. A monopoly, or market confusion, is inevitable. At the very least this model leads to reduced innovation along the connections. Can you imagine if there was only one Web server? One FTP server? One Email server? Companies like Google would have certainly never been allowed to exist. They might have been sued by the Acme Web Server company early in their life much like Power.com is being sued by Facebook today."

Now, my argument is that this centralized data portability might be a necessary baby step, for now, while consumers as a whole (and not just the early-adopter dp-geek few) become used to the idea of accessing their data (files, pictures, friend connections, etc) from various touch points across the Web (help them get over the potential "creepy" factor)...but ultimately, this is not the open, socially contextual (and ultimately semantic) Web we all envision and hope for.

However, as Saad illustrates for us below, the end goal is of course a decentralized social graph, accessible on and from any application or vendor that a user may so choose...and that this "Peered Data Portability" model is most analogous to the internet itself. Indeed, as we say here at Socialized, that data portability will become embedded into the very fabric of the Web itself is precisely what we mean by "the Web IS social." And Peered Data Portability would actualize this in a most fundamental and intrinsic way.


What Do YOU Hate About the Internet?

Urlesque Does ROFLTHING 2009 from Urlesque on Vimeo.

Note our friend Rex in there...and lets see, I LOVE Tron Guy and his answer...and I like the 3rd response...


Meme of the Year

Watch because its dividing 4chan right in half, because you can't get enough...oh, and because context is everything


Addicted to Rhizome Vids and Amy Poehler on Tech

The Technology Readings 5/6 from Rhizome on Vimeo.

This from Rhizome.org's lecture series at the New Museum...Amy is hilarious as per usual...and for the geek in you, check out Rhizome's video archives of all their lectures and events. I've been to a few and they really are stimulating, with fantastic panels and subject matter. Love it!