I Kickstarted Diaspora – Step 1 in Quitting Facebook

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I’ve been wanting to make an investment in some Kickstarter program for a while. A friend of mine got involved in the early pre-alpha stage, but I couldn’t find a project that I got that passionate about until now. I love Kiva and the idea behind it, but the idea behind something that could radically change social networks is pretty sweet too. These guys could easily steal my percentage of the $70K that they raised and go buy beer too, which is cool too and I’m happy to support them for having the chutzpah for doing that. I’ve never really been able to get behind Facebook. I post all of my updates via Twitter and respond to email from about 4 people on it. I find it a bit mundane in terms of what is being shared and I, no offense, only have a few friends that add interest and value to my life. The rest is just kind of nice to see. I like these people, but I don’t need the updates about their lunches and they don’t need mine. Frankly, if I lost 90% of my friends (who aren’t really friends but mostly distant acquaintances), I wouldn’t lose a lot of sleep over it. Throw on all of the headache behind the privacy stuff and I start to think about dropping the whole program. I don’t know if I’ll go so far as to completely pull the plug on FB, but I find myself, in my old age, caring less and less about what other people happen to like nor do I feel so compelled to share what I like. Odds are, you don’t like what I like. Jason’s post really swayed me this morning. Not so much to quit FB, which I think is coming for me, but to also start exploring other alternatives. In the words of Archers of Loaf, the underground is over crowded.Diaspora was getting a lot of traction today. I loved the video and really like what these guys are trying to do. I think that old people are going to have a tough time getting it, but if you think about bitorrent for social networks, that sums the premise up nicely. It is obviously still a long ways away from going primetime and having grandma hit you up for a friend request, but I don’t think that it is as far away as others are saying. $70K buys a lot of coding time from 4-talented devs living on raman and Coke. If I can launch an open source version of FB for free in 15-minutes (terrible video), these guys can do it in 3-months.Of course, the Diaspora video also seems like this is the kind of scam that was concocted over large amounts of cheap beer and bad coffee, so who knows.UPDATE – TechCrunch, of course, has a another post on Diaspora.

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I’m The Mayor of Your House – #crime

At the end of the year, I read Michael Fertik’s great post, 2010: The Year of Atomic Branding on my friend Jennifer Leggio’s blog. I file this under ‘scary – interesting’ and I thought that was the end of it.

A couple of weeks later, I’m in the city for the weekend with my family. We had just trudged through the rain and were sitting in the bar of the St. Francis. The kids having hot chocolate, me having a martini and I checked in on Foursquare. The act of checking in on Foursquare when I’m with my family delights my kids because they like to know the Mayor of places. The act of checking in on Foursquare pisses my wife off to no end and has been the cause of many a shopping spree.

This time, she simply said “So now everyone that follows you knows that we aren’t at home and we are over an hour away. How many people follow you and how much do you trust them not to rob us?’ I wish she would have stopped there, but of course, she follows that up with “How often do you check in, telling the world that you aren’t home, but maybe me and the kids are?”

Flashback to Michael Fertik’s article, the potential threat of oversharing on social networks.

Of course this got me thinking about how safe location based social networks are. How vulnerable are we?

I’ve heard interesting stories about people & stalkers and being dumped or being fired because of FourSquare. I haven’t heard about people being robbed. Yet.

A week or so later, I did a simple check to see how vulnerable we really are. I did a quick search for people in San Francisco sharing their status on Twitter and checked in on FourSquare or Gowalla. It’s a simple query using Twitter’s advanced search capability.

What I found amazed me. People checked in all over the place. FourSquare was living up to it’s reputation. However, an easy cross check from Twitter – where people tend to put their full name and where they live, with WhitePages.com let me easily figure out where people lived. I don’t mean just the city, but also their exact address and even a nice little Google Map with directions to get there.

Of course, not everyone is easy to find on WhitePages.com, but my quick little informal experiment yielded about a 25% hit rate. I got freaked out. No more FourSquare for me. In the old days, burglars would prowl around neighborhoods looking for empty houses.  Today, they simply need to search for affluent neighborhoods and look for people who have checked in at places more than a few hours away.  The movie theater for example.

I took it one step further.  Here is a feed for people who have checked in or are posting “I’m at” the key phrase for both Gowalla and FourSquare.  When people say where they are, they also say where they aren’t (home, for example).

Glad I have an alarm system. How long until someone really malicious does a nice little Twitter / WhitePages mash-up?

Photo by Johnny Grim.

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Twitter, Voyeurism & Small Towns

My friend Chris makes a great argument that Twitter, while getting popular amongst niche circles, will never cross over into true mainstream like Facebook has.
I don’t buy the idea that Twitter will be like the invention of the phone, cell phone or computer, where this narrow set of first adopters paves the way and then a floodgate of regular people follow. That time has passed. It’s actually the masses that have (ironically for a social technology) revolted from Twitter because it’s been crammed down their throats in the media and on the Web, and regular people have balked at it. They are happy to say “I don’t get it, and I don’t want to get it.” Facebook happened more organically in dorm rooms because people saw a need for it. People immediately find their friends there, and that matters.
If Chris is talking specifically about the brand Twitter, I would contest that it is too early to tell whether or not Twitter is the ‘it’ application that mass media portrays that it is.  Micromessaging, though, is here to stay.
I look at Twitter like the Friendster of micromessaging. There is a chance that Twitter could devolve and die like Friendster did, making way for MySpace which faltered making way for Facebook.
But I don’t see micromessaging dying anytime soon. In fact, I only see it getting more and more prominent.
People by nature are egotistical and everyone believes that they have something vital to say. As soon as the printing press became common, people were posting bills and handing out fliers sharing their ideas / opinions. I’m quite sure that there was some guy on a high hill shouting smoke signals. There was ham radio, CB’s, fanzines on photocopiers, CompuServe forums, email lists, blogs and now Twitter.
To further show my point, I looked at the town where I grew up.  A small town, not a very technologically sophisticated town of about 3,000 people.
People love to shout out their thoughts and love being voyeuristic and see what other people are doing. Micromessaging isn’t going away anytime soon.

My friend Chris makes an interesting argument that Twitter, while getting popular amongst niche circles, will never cross over into true mainstream like Facebook has.

I don’t buy the idea that Twitter will be like the invention of the phone, cell phone or computer, where this narrow set of first adopters paves the way and then a floodgate of regular people follow. That time has passed. It’s actually the masses that have (ironically for a social technology) revolted from Twitter because it’s been crammed down their throats in the media and on the Web, and regular people have balked at it. They are happy to say “I don’t get it, and I don’t want to get it.” Facebook happened more organically in dorm rooms because people saw a need for it. People immediately find their friends there, and that matters.

If Chris is talking specifically about the brand Twitter, I would say that it is too early to tell whether or not Twitter is the ‘it’ application that mass media portrays that it is.  Micromessaging, though, is here to stay.I look at Twitter like the Friendster of micromessaging. There is a chance that Twitter could devolve and become irrelevant like Friendster did, making way for MySpace which faltered making way for Facebook.But I don’t see micromessaging dying anytime soon. In fact, I only see it getting more and more prominent.People by nature are egotistical and everyone believes that they have something vital to say (bloggers especially). As soon as the printing press became common, people were posting bills and handing out fliers sharing their ideas & opinions. I’m quite sure that there was some guy on a high hill smoke signaling his ideas. There was ham radio, CB’s, fanzines on photocopiers, CompuServe forums, email lists, blogs and now Twitter.To further show my point, I looked at the town where I grew up.  A small, not very technologically sophisticated town of about 3,000 people. A simple Twitter Search of the town name reveals that people there are using Twitter.  These are real people, not some new-media elites grabbing on to this medium. They have a small community and Twitter offers the easiest way to reach them with their ideas and opinions.People love to shout out their thoughts and people love being voyeuristic. Yelling and watching aren’t going away anytime soon.  Neither is micromessaging.What do you think? Is Twitter a flash in the proverbial pan? Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.Photo by Fuffer – who has great cartoons.

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Crush It – A Review of @garyvee ‘s New Book

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I’ll admit upfront, I’m a big GaryVee fan.  When he announced his new book, Crush It, I ordered it no questions asked.  I knew that it would be that good.  Plus, I’ve mooched off of his unbelievable content for the past 2-years, it’s the least I can do for the guy.

I first heard about Gary when he came to San Francisco and my friend JJ invited me to go see him do a live taping of WineLibrary.tv.  Of course, I was a dummy and turned down the offer. I had never heard of Gary, I don’t really drink wine so I passed to hang with my family.  A few days later, I watched the video and kicked myself for a couple of days more.

If you’ve ever watched Gary, even once, you know the voice.  That unmistakable, semi-hoarse, kind of screaming, enthusiastic voice.  That voice was in my head the entire time I read this book.  I thought that was cool.  Here is a book about building a personal brand and I can’t even get this guy’s voice out of my head.  Talk about brand.

The book itself, like his videos, is pretty short (total read time was only about 2 hours), easy to digest and extremely motivational.  You can’t read this book and say ho-hum, I’ll stick that on a shelf for a rainy day.  Hell, it’s even got me blogging again.  It’s also got me thinking about how I can help my dad in his pending retirement and my sister with her new pet store and my buddy the artist. You just want to go out and spread the gospel.

If  you’re pretty savvy on the social media front, a lot of this will be second nature to you.  You’ll know all the tools that he talks about.  You’ll probably have them all set up and you’re using them from time to time.  If you’ve spent anytime with anyone that has built a good personal brand, you’ll know a lot of the strategy that Gary lays out, but what you won’t know is the hustle that he describes.  As he points out in the beginning, this isn’t a get rich quick scheme, this, like all good schemes, it’s a get rich slow with a lot of work one.

But he spells it out for  you.  In the book, Gary shares with you everything that he did to build his own personal brand.  It isn’t rocket science, it’s work.  It isn’t get a million twitter followers over night, this is get them over 2 – 3 years of hard work and brand building.  But the directions are there, all you’ve got to do is follow them.

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Why @bubbawatson Had Such A Cool Tweet

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Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Last night, PGA Tour Player Bubba Watson, tweeted a link to a video of him teaching how to hit a flop shot over a bunker.  I retweeted the link saying (from my golf site) that I thought that it was cool for a bunch of different reasons.  Like most RT’s, I half expected it to go into the ether never to be heard from again.A few hours later, I got this response:

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Wow, that is cool, but probably a response worthy of more than 140 characters. Here is what my immediate reaction was.1.) Adoption – A few days ago, I noticed this tweet from Stewart Cink:

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So less than a week ago, Bubba Watson was new to Twitter and now he is sharing video.  As someone who lives and breathes by adoption rates of my product, this is awesome to see.  Bubba Watson may be my new case study on adoption. Within a week, he recognized the power of social media, built a huge base of followers and regularly adds value using text, photos and video. What if a percentage of your employees did the same thing?
2.) Actual pro’s sharing video – Sharing video on Twitter isn’t new. Giving lessons to people via links in Twitter isn’t new either, but usually golf lessons are delivered via @dorfongolf and you have to take them with a grain of salt.  Seeing a tour pro give a lesson offers a much different level of credibility and, like watching any professional athlete, it is a little magical too.  Usually playing lessons are reserved for high quality, Golf Channel, fancy production things.  This was just Bubba out for a casual round and making a quick video.  I’ll take 30-minutes of this any day.
3.) Response time – Bubba Watson interacts with his fans a lot on Twitter.  Probably more than anyone else on the PGA and most people on LPGA.  Not since Shaq have I seen an athlete truly converse with their fans in this manner.  I shouldn’t be surprised by the response rate, but it was still pretty cool.
4.) The video is pretty good too:
I’ve always dug Bubba Watson as a player. He has a sweet swing and hits the ball a million miles. But in the last 12-hours I’ve gone from average fan to huge fan all due to a simple video and a quick response.

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Hey Hombre, What’s Your Nombray?

My one or two regular readers know that I’ve been playing around with different life streaming services for the past few months.  I’m a big fan of building my personal brand, though it is hard to do in a single location.  I’ve got a great personal URL (yeah, Schnaars is tough to spell, but you get it), but anyone that is interested in finding out more about me needs to go to Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.  So I have a brand that I’m cognizant of, but I don’t have everything in a single location.  If people want to find out about me, it’s like they have to go to 5 or 6 different stores, when they could just go to Target.I tried using SweetCron, but found it far too complicated to get installed, administrate and customize.  The cool part about SweetCron is how clean it looks for the end user, but at the end of the day, it was far too difficult for me to use.I love FriendFeed and I think that it is a great aggregator of content from various sources, but from a personal branding stand point, it is somewhat limited.  There are also only limiting ways to get your content from FriendFeed from their site to mine. Why send someone to another site that, while about me, is really about them?A few weeks ago, I was looking at my friend Sean O’Malley’s site and I totally dug the way that it looked.  He had everything that I wanted, a named URL and all of the sites that had his personal information all aggregated in a common site.  After doing a bit of poking around, I discovered that it was run by a service called Nombray, a service that lets you own your name and all of the content that you create.A few days after I mentioned to Sean how much I liked the site, he introduced me to Chris Lunt, CEO of Nombray.  Chris and I spent some time together recently talking about Nombray and the importance of having a personal domain.  As a personal branding service, I think that Nombray is second to none. I immediately signed up with http://schnaars.org.

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The admin screen, as you can see above, is incredibly simple.  You simply point to the site that you want to add to your page and it automatically adds a tab.  Tabs can be moved around, notated, added and removed as simply as anything. If there is a better tool for building your own brand, I haven’t found it.Chris and I also talked about the impact that a service like Nombray can have on small businesses that incorporate their name.  If you’re John Smith and you own Smith and Sons, you need to have an online presence that is more than http://smithandsons.com.  You need to have a Twitter account. You need to have a Facebook page. You need to have a LinkedIn page.  You need to have 8 – 10 other services as well that show off your business.This is poses a challenge to many small businesses that simply don’t grok social media.  Nombray can help.  Chris and his team are working on a really nice premium version that will be available to small businesses (think law firms or doctors offices). The service will not only help you manage your personal domain, but also will help to aggregate the other social networking services to help spread your brand.  The value for a small business should be pretty huge.If you aren’t using a site like Nombray, how are you managing your personal brand?