Sunday, November 22, 2009

SuperTweet MetaData

Uber-blogger Robert Scoble started a lively conversation regarding his concept of the SuperTweet as a mechanism of monitization for Twitter on his blog.

I had to put in my two cents because I really think he's on to something -- but WAY beyond just advertising. Here's my response:

First, the meta-data association is BIG --- way beyond just advertising. Tagging, geo-location, and parent/child info (providing the ability to piece together entire conversations and trends – REAL-TIME), just to name a few, would be enormously useful to Twitter and 3rd-party developers. It would create a mechanism that does not mess with the magical 140 characters, while providing an extension that embraces really useful things today and things that haven’t even been thought of yet.

Addressing the monetization issue, clearly the integration of (multi-tiered) SuperTweet MetaData would benefit any advertising strategy Twitter pursues, and offer an affiliate opportunity for Twitter clients and developers. Twitter has every right to place whatever ads they want within any context they chose, just as the user has every right to ignore them or abandon the service. Twitter’s responsibility for long-term happiness (for all) is to find a balance.

It wasn’t so long ago that nobody would conceive of paying a subscription for the right to push out messages 140 characters at a time. But that was before the phenomenal growth and success of the Twitter ecosystem. There is absolutely a class of Twitter users today that would pay $2.95 per month for additional value add – whether that be no ads, higher control over ads, or premium service/content.

For everyone else, SuperTweet MetaData could help target ads in ways not otherwise available. The problem with web-based ads (a la Google), is that there is too much anonymity for them to be really useful (this is separate from privacy). If I visit a website, the context for ad delivery is the website I am visiting. Twitter, on the other hand, knows the context of the message, the conversation in which the message occurs, the originating sender, distributed recipients, relational association at each step (including location of all), plus any meta data that I may have inserted via preferences, priorities, filters, patterns, and trends – all of which occurs in real-time.

I do not believe the case for SuperTweet MetaData is about advertising, though it certainly has relevance. No, I think the real case for SuperTweet MetaData is that it reinforces Twitter’s position as the center of its universe, extends 3rd-party opportunity by an order of magnitude, and provides Twitter with numerous monetization options – including advertising and subscription revenue.

Read the full article and discussion over at

Picture credit:

-- Steve

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The "Personal" Server in My Everyday life...

[Dave Winer started a great conversation about "Personal Servers" over at his site. My comments:]

(Personal Servers have) become part of my environment – part of my “operating system”. It’s an extension whose always-on real-time availability lets me host services, communications, aggregators, consolidators, syndicators, and so much more.

I have been living daily with “personal” servers since the mid 90’s. There is one running in the background on my laptop (and most of my other machines) as I write this comment (actually, it is running multiple server instances – port 80, 7070, 9090, and 443 [ssl]. This is ALWAYS present for me. The power of dynamic content generation and JIT compiling/execution is infinitely more useful when it exists real-time in your actual environment. I can modify a file, and simply by saving it the change is instantly available on the web. Likewise, via localhost, I can develop without the burden of FTP. Code, refresh, code, refresh. When I’m ready, and need more (such as the business/commercial aspect) then after I’ve locally fine-tuned, I upload to an offsite hosting rack.

But it’s not just for development. It has become part of my environment – part of my “operating system”. It’s an extension whose always-on real-time availability lets me host services, communications, aggregators, consolidators, syndicators, and so much more. I, for one, cannot imagine my environment without this power and flexibility.

+1 for Personal Servers

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Is the Droid Love Affair Over? Absolutely not, but…

I love my Droid. Simple as that. But a serious flaw has revealed itself that has the potential for catastrophic consequences for my new little buddy. It’s a problem so obvious that at first I couldn’t believe it and hoped it just went away – but it is a critical problem that could cripple the Droid, and therefore needs to be addressed.

First, let me say that I have never owned an iPhone, Blackberry, or any other Smart Phone – ever. I have been a loyal Motorola phone user for years (my phone previous to the Droid was a Razor) and I WANT the Droid to be successful for so many reasons.

The problem is with the physical keys of the keyboard. This is not an issue of whether you like the keyboard or not, or think the keys could have been laid out better (for the record, I like the keyboard, but also believe it will be refined as the Droid evolves). The problem is the keys themselves -- under a very specific circumstance.

So, when I was at the Verizon store when they opened yesterday (the first day of availability of the Droid), I got my Droid, all the accessories, and a big smile on my face. Of course I got the car charger, the car mount (for GPS mode), and the Verizon-recommended rubber protective “Bra” – this latter accessory consisting of two-piece rubber that attaches to the top and bottom of the Droid. And it is this “protective” accessory that has the potential for catastrophic interaction with the phone. The problem is that is seems the “face” of the keys on the keyboard are glued on to the keys – no big deal, except when you slide the keyboard open and the rubber bra catches on the keys – in my case the edge of the DEL key caught and started to peel up. At first I didn’t realize why the slide was “sticking” but then quickly determined that if I opened the keyboard all the way up, it would rip the face of the DEL key right off. CRAP!

If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the corner of the DEL key pulled up. For now, I have used my fingernail to push it back down and I removed the top piece of the rubber protective “bra” and everything is working fine. But I can no longer use the top piece because it will rip the key face right off. I’ll be visiting the Verizon store tomorrow to seek a remedy, but in the mean time, I would caution everyone not to use the rubber bra thingee on top.

Has this experience soured my excitement for the Droid? Hell no. I told you, I love the little guy. I struggled with even raising this issue, but it was clear to me that this is a problem that will continue, and maybe the next guy who writes about it will use this flaw to slam an otherwise fantastic device. For me, I’m sticking with the Droid… quirks, flaws, and all -- but my Droid will go topless without the rubber bra.

[UPDATE: It runs out that the BRA has a small tab on three of its four sides. It must be installed so that no tab is on the bottom side where the keyboard slides open. Regrettably, neither Motorola or Verizon provide any instructions in this matter.]

Friday, November 6, 2009

My New Droid...

So I bought my DROID today...

No line for me, but the Verizon store was crowded at 7am. I was out of there within 30 minutes with my new Droid. First observations: (1) the only ladies in the store were sales personnel, (2) Verizon did not have the software to convert my existing contacts, (3) even with 2 days of training, the staff was still on the learning curve. But, everyone was smiling, everyone was nice, and after swiping my credit card I ran home to play. 2 hours later --- I still love it! It’s HEAVY, but it is soooo cool. One note, I bought all the accessories and when the Droid is outfit with the rubber protector sleeve it does not fit in the GPS car mount.

Still, I connected it to all my email accounts, enabled universal inbox, moved a ton of pictures and music onto the SD card (via simple USB drag and drop) – and barely put a dent in the 16GB memory. I synced all my contacts from Outlook (via gmail import) and then enabled the Facebook connection. Contacts started automatically populating with their profile pictures and now I’m off and running. Call quality is awesome, the speaker phone rocks, and music sounds great (plus there’s a headphone jack). Certainly it’s not perfect, but the triad of Google + Motorola + Verizon is highly incentivized to keep things fresh. And, did I mention it’s heavy (could be used as a self-defense weapon in a pinch)? In any case – no buyers remorse here!