Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Twitter's 1st evangelism comms guy, Linkedin's 2nd PR guy. These are my thoughts on tech, public relations, and life.

Apple iTunes, meet your nemesis. Spotify.

Spotify is to Apple iTunes music as Google is to Newspapers. Oh, yae! Game on.

Let me explain… 

Today, Spotify — the much talked about music service from Europe — finally surprised everyone by actually launching in the US and I had a chance to give it a spin. Spotify reminds me of Rdio (a similar music service I really liked) and is the second coming of Napster from bad boy entrepreneur, Sean Parker. But this time it’s legit (yes, music labels are on-board this time), and boy, what a ride this is gonna be.

There’s a new Kid on the block, iTunes. Spotify.

For starters, let’s talk about Apple Ping.

In the history of my Apple usage, there are two services that I’ve been completely disappointed with and they are: MobileMe (cloud service) and Ping (iTunes Social) or “the Suck” as I call it.

I’m not gonna rehash my dislike of Ping, but as a product it sucked and for a company as awesome as Apple (especially in the music space), it was a huge letdown for users that Jobs and team just didn’t get social.

Enter Spotify.

How it works.

Now Rdio had done this before but Spotify is better in some subtle ways so I’m gonna focus this review on Spotify alone. Frankly, these guys have nailed the freemium model: There’s just enough for everybody in every pricing tier. I’m a free user and I don’t see myself upgrading anytime soon (unless if they start limiting the hours of music I can listen to, like they did in Europe). Here’s a breakdown of what each group of users get.

Even the pricing is great. I easily see myself moving to the $5 / month tier very soon if I find myself listening to a lot more music on Spotify. Chances that I’ll get there are high because of the desktop app that indexes my home music and the more I use Spotify to discover new music, the more it becomes my default music listening app. More on this in just a second. But, this desktop app is sheer genius and is the biggest difference with Rdio (which is completely web based and follows a similar pricing model).

And, if I get to the $5 mark, chances are I’d be curating a lot more playlists and then bam! I’ll want to move up to the $10 / month tier when I’d like to sync my playlists with my iPhone / iPod. The reason it works is that most people have a gazillion songs but then you usually end up listening to your favorites over and over again. While not all of us are gonna curate a bunch of playlists, I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to create one that plays top-of-mind music for you or find ones curated by your friends that you can subscribe to.

It just works.

For new users, the ramp-up is seamless, quick and the streaming of music is instant. Yes, this is a peer-to-peer service and the technology behind the streaming is peerless. Your user interface is broken down into three parts (See pic above):

A. Search and find new music, get recommendations from friends (Inbox)

B. Index and search your own music

C. Curate playlists (that you can share with your friends and take with you on your mobile music player)

It’s got cool friends.

Now, this is where it gets really cool. Imagine Facebook meets Spotify. Now that Facebook has changed the landscape of social gaming, they will obviously look into the next frontier that lets them scale to a billion users. What’s more social than entertainment. And, if you thought music was important to you, think of the Bieber crowd (just check the top 10 songs on iTunes — its driven entirely by that audience) that’s growing up with the instant gratification mindset — this will be the tool that lets them get any music when they want, where they want it and most importantly that their friends deem cool.

Music could be Facebook’s next Photos app. And, Facebook’s 750 million users gives Spotify a way to grow their audience globally, rapidly. No wonder Zuckerberg deflected Jobs’ reality distortion field when Jobs met him around the time Ping launched on using Facebook Connect within iTunes.

It replaces iTunes.

As I mentioned earlier, the genius with Spotify is that it becomes the default way I interact with my music (since it indexes my music, it becomes the user interface with which I search and stumble upon new music). What happens next? I will start using iTunes less. It took me seconds to start using Spotify as my default music player. Seamless.

Much like Google became the way you found news rather than going to the New York Times website. Spotify will become the place you find music vs. going to iTunes. Kinda like what iTunes did to the music store.

This is a generational shift much like social is today. iTunes will be around for a long while, but the next generation that gets Facebook will find Spotify (through them), and will not know what iTunes was and Apple won’t know what hit them.

Should Apple worry?

Hellz yae. Obviously, Apple’s investing in building our cloud services (Steve Jobs showed off his new data centers at the last keynote he did) but this is more than just storing your music on the cloud and taking it with you (don’t get me started on that — you still can’t sync your music via Wifi on iTunes — Spotify allows for that as well).

This is about how you find your music. In no other industry does social recommendations matter more than in music. Apple’s music future (much like Google’s today) will one day depend on social and they better prepare for that day, now.

If you liked this post, you’ll like me on Twitter too

Filed under: Best-of, Spotify, , , , ,

Why Google will always remain Spock. Never Kirk.

The past few days have witnessed a barrage of non-stop Google Plus nonsense, with marketers vying with one another to carve out their territory on Google+ with the fond hope that it’ll be the next Twitter. In the meanwhile, I’ve not had one meaningful conversation on the platform with nearly 721 followers and I don’t know of any who have.

So, what gives?

Google+ 0 Friends

To get sticky with it: You always start with the community.

Let me share with you a tale of two other social sites that have increasingly become my daily go-to sites: Quora and Tumblr. Those who follow me have probably seen my tweets from either of these sites and the reason is, when I’m there I feel like home. In much the same way as I do on Facebook, which has my real friends and family.

Facebook started with the college community, built that flawlessly across the country, and then finally expanded outside of that circle that they had so masterfully cornered. This was probably what helped them break the monopoly of MySpace, whose ignominious ending we all witnessed this past week.

A tale of two useful social sites: Quora and Tumblr

Likewise, the kinship with my peers on Quora and Tumblr took months to form. On Quora we share a common interest in learning and several common topics that the site is carefully curating over time (like a good librarian who can direct you towards a book that you should read). Tumblr, likewise has a group of artful types who share quotes, pictures and videos (yet again, on topics I dig).

And, on both sites I find good search functionality that lets me pull in updates on these topics I love. Note: I wish both would automatically pull in my Facebook interests since they’re providing a high-quality stream of content on those topics that even Facebook cannot generate. Take that Google+ Sparks.

Now, I probably wouldn’t have published this if I’d not seen this morning’s top post on Techmeme from Paul Allen on Google+ that proclaims:

 Google+ is Growing Like Crazy. Report Coming Monday. Probably More than 4.5 Million Users Already

To which I say: So what? Actually, hang on, Business Insider says it better:

In fact, two days after Buzz went live, Google posted a blog entry bragging that “tens of millions” of people had checked it out, and created more than 9 million posts and comments.

At some point, interest died.

So far Google+ is filled with Googlers, reporters, and tech enthusiasts. They’re posting a lot, enjoying the Hangouts feature, and driving traffic to tech news sites.

But it’s still way too early to know whether Google+ will get any traction with mainstream users — the 750 million people who are on Facebook today.

Personally, despite having hundreds of followers on Google+ nothing of interest has happened on the site in my purview. Yes, I see my good old blogger friends asking questions they used to ask on Twitter, I’ve seen some cool hangouts with random people that Ben and others started, and the curiosity factor over which “interesting stranger” (as BI called it) is on G+ today. 


Google just doesn’t seem to get social. While the screenshot above (Googlers with 0 Friends) may be a great metaphor, as I’ve argued from the beginning, the Friendfeed cult model (that G+ mimics) just doesn’t work at building sustainable social communities, since it confuses the personal and public spheres. Granted it may scale faster as you’re gonna see soon (millions of users real fast), but will it stick?

Here’s a blog post from George Siemens that suggests why the friend forming algorithm of G+ is messed up:

While power laws (Pareto’s Principle) may exist in many areas of our lives – banking, TV watching habits, book purchases – they are surprisingly absent at a personal level. Yes, I likely respond to a small cluster of blogs and tweets that I encounter. But my personal networks – family and friends – don’t seem to have the power law structure of my public identity. For example, I move fairly fluidly between my personal networks. Facebook gets this. I’ve had very few “way out there” friend suggestions on Facebook.

G+, on the other hand, has been busy trying to make kings of a few: Robert Scoble, Mike Arrington, Loic Le Muer, Mark Zuckerberg, and so on. (Techcrunch addresses this issue as well.) I have precisely zero interest in those people. Nothing in my email history indicates that I would like to connect with them. Google’s algorithm is whacked on how it recommends friends: it is recommending them based on power laws (who is most popular) not on my personal interests. This is a fundamental and significant misunderstanding of social networks. Network properties are different at a personal and social level than they are in public spaces.

Welcome to the Friendfeed conundrum that conflates public and personal spaces. Even, the Pavlovian model of notifications is broken (and frankly useless) in this world, since now the red notification isn’t bringing in the reward that a Facebook notification does and is diminishing its effectiveness.

It’ll be interesting to see how Google+ evolves over time (cos they’ve really invested a ton of resources and are betting their future on it), but in its current avatar I don’t see how it can draw people away from Facebook.

Come back tomorrow for my post on Zuckerberg’s presentation style. This one’s a doozy. Bookmark my blog or subscribe to it.

Related posts you may find useful to form your own opinion:

  1. Follow the Quora topic on Google+
  2. Yishan Wong’s Quora answers (most of the recent ones are on Google+ and social)
  3. Ross Mayfield building on my original post re: different social networking models
  4. George Siemens post on Google+’s fundamental misunderstanding of networks
  5. Rocky Agrawal’s Solving the Scoble problem in Social Networks on TechCrunch (I’d say this is more of a G+ problem)

Sorry, Google+. For similar thoughts, follow me on Twitter.

Filed under: Google+, Quora, Tumblr

The Return of Friendfeed (as Google+)

I recently shared my thoughts on Google+ (Google’s recent foray into social networking — let me know if you need an invite — after the public failure of Google Wave and Buzz). They’ve got to get it right this time (and frankly I think they nailed some of the subtleties that they didn’t in their past avatars). That said, there’s just something about Google+ that doesn’t seem right and — that’s got to do with its relationship model.

Check out the rest of my thoughts on Google+ on Quora

Google Plus is a curious amalgam of Facebook and Twitter but more interestingly this is the same model that Friendfeed pioneered (with far slicker tools: “like” and “real-time feed” anyone).

Google+ is basically the 2nd coming of Friendfeed and therein lies the rub…

Information networks vs. social networks

Why is that a problem you ask. Let me first explain the two different types of social networking models. Traditional social networks (like Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) have a symmetric connection model — mutual connections mark the relationship. Twitter on the other hand (an information network if you will), followed the subscription model where you follow users (much like Ev and Biz’s first hit –, which Google later bought). To the best of my knowledge, here’s the best description of the two models — hat tip to Joshua Porter (Bokardo), who did a terrific piece explaining these two social networking models. Highly recommended reading.

[Update]: Ben Parr just tweeted with his more recent piece, on Information networks. Here it is. Extrapolating, it’s basically any community that’s based on the information ties that you have (Twitter, Quora is a great example / follower model) vs. ones that are predicated on social ties (Facebook, LinkedIn / mutual connections).

Now, Friendfeed (later bought by Facebook – oh, what an intricate social web we weave), came out with a hybrid model which allows you to have both friends (subscribers) and followers. Oddly enough followers could pop up into your conversations as well. So, rather than being the best of both worlds, what you end up with is the worst of both worlds. Initially, there’s an incentive to build your REAL social network (a la Facebook) that Google+ is trying to foster with Circles, but at the same time they pollute that atmosphere with the follower model, where people you don’t know jump in with comments that you don’t feel like responding to.

That was the problem Friendfeed faced and that’ll be the problem that Google+ will inevitably encounter.

Secondly, Circles or Friend-lists are not scalable (though Google+ has perfected the art of persistent engagement to get users to bucket them – nicely done). What this means is that Google+ will gravitate toward the asymmetric or hybrid model (as it already has, wherein your stream will be sprinkled with random comments from people you don’t know).

What’s Google+’s future?

As I said in my Quora post, Facebook has nothing to fear from Google+. They both operate under completely different models. While Facebook is focused on building real relationships and has assiduously built an environment that reminds me of “Cheers” (see below), Google+ is slowly morphing into Friendfeed.

At the end of the day, I just wanted to be someplace…

…where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.

you wanna be where everybody knows
your name.
That is Home. That is Facebook. (For me)

Now, granted the asymmetric model gains traction and followers fast, the question remains: is it sustainable? Time will tell. I won’t bet against Google given their enormous muscle and their ability to weave Plus into every Google interaction you have. But, I don’t think in its current state, Google+ will draw me away from my real home on Facebook.

What are your initial impressions of Google+? Leave a comment or @mariosundar.

Check out the rest of my thoughts on Google+ on Quora

Filed under: Google+, , ,

Could Color kill Check-ins?

“If I’d asked my customers “friends” what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse check-in.”Henry Ford Color

Check-ins don’t work for the majority of users outside of the tech industry. They’ve been around for a while. They’ve been tried, tested, been crowned breakout technology at geek-fest SXSW Interactive, but to date I’m not sure if any of my friends in the Real World actually CHECK-IN when we meetup.

But, Photos, we all do. All The Time. Family gatherings, events, conferences, concerts – you name it – whenever 2 or more are gathered together, chances are there’s a photo being taken (maybe not at Starbucks, but you get the picture). Especially, in today’s world of the ubiquitous smart phone camera.

Enter Color.

What is Color? A hot new mobile photo app launched yesterday that for lack of a better term reminds me of a bizarro meeting of Facebook Places and Facebook Photos, where they re-create your social graph based on where you and “birds of your feather” gather today in real-time in the real-world.

Yes, it’s difficult to describe and yes, it’s difficult to experience without a friend or two (oh, yae!) around, but the idea is so dang intriguing and potentially disruptive. So bear with me here.

Color vs. Facebook Places / Photos

Interestingly, Color’s vision is kinda like how Facebook describes Facebook places is described in this video (if you can get past the cheesy Apple music and corny spin)

We haven’t really provided a way for you to find out where your friends really hang out, and we think that’s a really important part of who people are“. Color’s basically flipping the check-in model by saying: Your friends are those you hang out with. Just hang out. Do your thing, and we’ll take care of “checking you in” with any photo being taken by you or around you.


Bill Nguyen says:

Color offers a way to determine location and proximity in such a non-battery draining, accurate manner that an impromptu and “elastic” social graph can be created from the data, without once ever having to purposefully check in.

“Our data is so accurate that we know where you are,” said Nguyen.

So, if you’d asked techie users what they wanted, they’d have said a faster check-in or a more centralized one (sorry, Gowalla!), but Color could be trying to build a real-world graph based on the people you actually end up hangin out with. And, for those of us living in the real-world and not in a “social graph” this could be very interesting.

The Creepiness and Loneliness Factor/s

Now, this is easier said than done. They are betting on a future with people becoming more photo-savvy, caring less about privacy. And, in that world if you’re around a camera – any camera – they will find you whether or not you “check-in” (again a Facebook trait, who allow your friends to check you in even if you don’t, a lil Minority Report’esque for my taste) but could this be a future we’re all not gonna mind in the future?

Interestingly, Facebook bet its future on people’s eagerness to share more. And, as the voiceover in the Facebook video says: “I expect in the future, people are gonna share a lot more of their lives this way (meaning check-ins)“, but frankly people are sharing a lot more via photos today. And, Facebook, as the world’s largest photo-sharing site should know that.

A more immediate concern for Color may be the “Loneliness” factor. It works effectively only when you find yourself in groups and folks who try it alone in their room (who does that in the real world anyways?) are bound to face disappointment. And much like Twitter who struggled explaining what they were all about (a site about nothing) for a very long period of time, Color too would have to figure out a way to overcome this challenge.

Tipping Point?

I did tell my former colleague and currently product lead at Color, DJ, that Color would have been THE breakout technology at SouthBy two weeks ago, giving bloggers, journalists, movie makers and musicians the Aha moment, they so sorely lack today. Here was his response to that question on Quora.

Related Quora threads I answered:

1. What is the point of Color?

2. What emergent behaviors will Color create?

Filed under: Color, Location, , ,

Rumors of Quora’s death are greatly exaggerated

I’ve already blogged about Quora and would recommend you try out the service to help you come to your own conclusion.

Also, I’ve responded to a similar thread on Quora. Please up-vote if you dig the answer.

In the meanwhile, thought I’d help debunk some of the assumptions that Vivek Wadhwa makes about Quora without having tried the service. While, on the one hand Vivek Vadhwa’s TechCrunch post raises a few pertinent issues (I’ll address a couple of them below), on the other hand, he hasn’t tried Quora yet which completely robs his post of all credibility.

Here goes…

All quotes below are Vivek’s from his TechCrunch post : Why I don’t buy the Quora hype

Quora’s not the next big thing

But I just don’t believe that Quora will “rule” or become anything like Facebook or Twitter.  It has been a very nice private club; but it’s not for the general public.

Now, Twitter and Facebook in my opinion are two completely different services. I look at Twitter as primarily an information network, while Facebook is a social network. Quora has the trappings of a bigger information network than Twitter (key is that Quora’s set up to structured content on a slew of scalable topics, something Twitter cannot do today). I just think, conflating the two is erroneous and misleading.

Quora’s silly

Some of the discussions have been very informative; some, completely misinformed.  Some questions are of general interest, such as: Will there be a tech sector crash in the near future?; some are obscure: Who are the most successful entrepreneurs with Iranian roots?; some are just plain silly: How much does Netflix spend on postage each year?

I recall similar conversations when Twitter “hype” was doing the rounds (maybe we’re still hyping Twitter). While anyone who tried Twitter at events or conferences would rave about it, others took time to understand it. And, frankly Twitter was not something you could understand by listening to your friends ramble on. At the end of the day, there was a learning curve and you had to use the service a few times to get it.

Even TechCrunch commented on Twitter’s adoption cycle, Curiosity, Abandonment, Addiction, 1.5 years ago. Now, replace Twitter with Quora and assume a steeper learning curve.

I’m still befuddled Vivek chose to write an entire rant without ever trying the product. And, I’d like to add that the inherent silliness he finds in Quora (something Twitter was also accused of) is what adds to its interestingness (and is basically how Quora’s members socialize). Frankly, that’s one of the ways Quora can cross the chasm into becoming a more mainstream knowledge site vs. catering just to professors, technologists, and VCs.

Quora’s growing because of bloggers

Quora’s membership is growing largely because of the attention that TechCrunch has given it (including the Best Startup award).

Not sure if that’s rooted in facts. Earlier this year, many people noticed a spike in Quora activity. I suspect it has more to do with Quora tweaking their “Trending Topics and Followers” widget than any attention from one individual blog.

Now, of all the things that Vivek threw at Quora, there were two nuggets that deserve further attention. Frankly, Quora is fighting one of these two and I’d urge them to give some thought to the other problem.

Issue #1: Fighting Noise and maintaining quality of answers

But I believe that the excess hype is destined to make Quora a victim of its own press.  The quality of answers will decline.  The people whose opinion I value, such as Quora’s #1 respondent, Robert Scoble, will simply stop posting on the site when they get drowned out by the noise from the masses.

Frankly, Robert in my opinion is not your prototypical Quora user, but it’s rather folks like Yishan Wong and Marc Bodnik, non-bloggers who continue adding their $0.02 on topics they have direct experience in that makes Quora fascinating. It’s this long tail of knowledge that Quora is hoping to tap into. These folks are the ones who could make Quora a success, not bloggers.

That said, there’s a problem of noise and quality loss that Quora will inevitably face and that’s something they are gearing up to face. Here’s Charlie Cheever who just wrote a blog post a couple of days back on that topic. Interestingly enough, Quora is taking a Wikipedia approach to fighting noise, enlisting the support of their biggest users.

To start, we’re focusing on question and answer content quality, and after we get those under control, we’ll turn our attention to topics.  We expect that some of these efforts will be pretty successful and some will be dead ends.  After this round of things, we’ll come up with new ideas and try those until the system works in a scalable way.

Issue #2: Fighting Anonymity

It claims that the site does not allow anonymity.  But you can easily sign up for a Quora account with any of your Twitter accounts (you can create as many of these as you want—with fictitious names).  You can then vote down answers from people you don’t like, edit questions asked by others, and post your own views.  You can talk about your own products and services, and disparage others’; in other words, it is a spammers’ paradise.  How is Quora going to manage hundreds of thousands—or millions—of unruly users, when even the mighty Google seems to be losing the battle for spam?

My experience on Quora has been good thus far, but since Quora only allows Twitter or Facebook connect for their users, it makes it a tad more difficult for me to verify the authenticity of the person behind the comment. Yes, Facebook or Twitter are a good start but frankly, a short LinkedIn summary using LinkedIn’s API will authenticate my experience on Quora much more effectively (Disclosure: I work at LinkedIn and these are purely my personal ramblings).

The Next Twitter?

Quora isn’t going to be a Facebook or a Twitter. It is not likely to even catch up with the current market leaders in the Q&A space— and Yahoo! Answers (which both get more than 40 million unique visitors a month, compared with Quora’s meager 150,000).

Heck, Twitter wasn’t going to be the next Twitter. Predicting Quora’s future is futile and though I’ve tried and know how well the service works, I won’t make a random guess as to its trajectory. There are so many things that Quora needs to get right in order to scale their platform but predicting its demise before giving it a chance is a tad cruel.

p.s. Yes, I’m a sucker for link-bait.

Got thoughts on Quora, leave a comment. Here’s some rebuttal from other bloggers to Vivek’s post. I told you, I dig these smackdowns.

  1. Dare Obasanjo on Quora crossing the chasm
  2. Semil Shah (who originally blogged about Quora on TechCrunch) responds
  3. Robert Scoble started a Quora thread on this topic (of course!)

Filed under: Quora

In the News: Why Quora? Why Now?

Another month passes, and here are a couple more leading publications – Mashable and Ragan – who quoted some of my thoughts on social media, both of which came about through my participation on Quora.

So, if you’re serious about building your expertise online and sharing that with the rest of the world. Start sharing on Quora or start a blog. But I digress…

1. Ragan Communications / Matt Wilson: The Big Quora Question – What’s it good for?

Matt Wilson from Ragan, reached out to me after reading my answer on five stages of Quora adoption for professionals.

Most of my quotes revolve around my usage of Quora and my thoughts on it being a disruptive force. I truly think Quora is the alpha-information network and frankly, I have an upcoming post on how it poses a competitive threat to a whole slew of information based companies. In the meanwhile, dig this…

Still, a growing group of social media experts and communicators say Quora is and will be as useful as Twitter.

“I think those who ignore it as a flash in the pan are rather short-sighted and unfortunately don’t see the big picture,” says Mario Sundar, senior social media manager for LinkedIn, who blogged about how to get into using Quora. “They’re also probably the same folks who doubted Twitter when it came out first.”

Check out the entire article here.

2. Mashable / Erica Swallow: The Future of the Social Media Strategist

Interestingly, this was quite an amalgam of a post that Erica Swallow mined from Twitter, Quora and Mashable’s own social media community to posit three possible avenues for the social media strategist. Interestingly, this jumped off a paper written by Jeremiah a while ago for his agency, Altimeter.

Erica quoted from my Quora answer, on one of three potential career trajectories for social media strategists:

In large organizations, the need for an executive-level social media strategist who defines the role across different functional areas will become the norm… Kind of like what my good friends Frank Eliason (formerly at Comcast and currently SVP of Social for Citigroup) and Scott Monty (head of social media at Ford) do at their respective large organizations. Their cross-functional role helps define social media across the organization as it’s integrated more closely with all functional areas, projects, etc.

“This will become the career trajectory for social media expertise in much the same way a marketing manager evolves into a VP of marketing.

That and other awesomeness can be found in the post here.

Filed under: In the News, Quora

5 Stages of Quora adoption for Professionals

Update: Aliza Sherman (Web Worker Daily) has a similar post on using Quora at work. Must-read.

Quora seems to be blowing up since the beginning of 2011, but it’s still early-stage enough to benefit you as a professional since you now have the attention of a small group of professionals with expertise in your area of interest.

Here are my recommendations on Quora adoption for professionals (based on my usage). If you’ve used it any differently, feel free to comment:

  • Stage 1: Follow topics of professional interest:

Much like the first step in social media adoption, stage 1 is always to “Listen”. Quora helps you find and follow your topics of interest through connections you already follow (hence the Facebook connect integration; asking you to suggest topics of interest to your friends on Quora is yet another hat tip to a Facebook innovation – making introductions to friends).

To this end, Quora has a well tuned “Trending Topics” module that does a great job of surfacing content and people you may know. I suspect this may be responsible for the sudden spike in people following you on Quora these days.

As a professional, the easiest way for you to benefit from Quora would be to start following your current area of expertise (your job), whatever it may be. The easiest approximation would be to find on Quora, specialties you’ve listed on your LinkedIn profile (Disclosure: I work at LinkedIn)…

As, my colleague, Russell Jurney suggested:

I’d really like it if Quora extracted my expertise from on any topic from my LinkedIn profile. Short of that, OAuth me in from LinkedIn. #in.

  • Stage 2: Follow your colleagues on Quora:

You may find your future mentor on Quora, but to get there you’d want to first follow people you work with.

Since it currently lacks a LinkedIn integration, I’d recommend you finding your peers through the “Invite Contacts” icon that you find on the right side of the Quora homepage.…

  • Stage 3: Follow breaking news in your field of expertise:

While stumbling upon threads of interest, don’t forget to check out the tags highlighted on top of the thread. It’s a great way to stumble upon and follow breaking news topics in your field of interest.

For e.g. I stumbled upon this thread on the Goldman Sachs Facebook investment via Dave McClure and then with a simple mouseover gesture was able to follow that breaking news topic: Goldman Sachs Investment in Facebook (2011).

Goldman Sachs Investment in Facebook (2011): What will Facebook do with their $500m financing from Goldman?

  • Stage 4: Break news in your field of expertise:

Quora also makes bloggers out of professionals – any professional – who’d like to document their expertise on the web, but in a light-weight way. In that respect, it’s kind of like an extension to your LinkedIn profile / resume.

While, answering questions on quora don’t forget to tag individuals you’ve worked with or link to similar questions or topics . All you’ve to do is hit @ and it gives you an auto-fill drop down of topics, questions, people you can select from.

Also, Quora is good at surfacing your unique exploits at work that don’t necessarily translate well into a resume. These are tips and tricks that’ll be helfpul to your peers when they’re working on similar projects. Think of it as building professional capital / karma. Take these questions for e.g.

What Is It like Working At X?

  • Stage 5: Ask a question:

This is probably the most advanced stage of Quora adoption – one that I haven’t gotten to yet. But, the good news is you can get a ton from quora without ever asking a question. See stages 1 through 4.

This is how I’m using Quora professionally and am now at a point where I feel compelled to check it every day. Do you use Quora as a news source or do you use it professionally?

Filed under: Best-of, Quora

The Death & Rebirth of Bookmarking (E.g.

Gone are the days when bookmarking came to signify one company –, now a property of Yahoo! The site  along with Wikipedia signaled the emergence of sites that tapped into the Wisdom of the Crowds. However, I noticed that I’ve stopped using delicious a while back. And, so I asked my twitter audience who among them used Delicious these days.

Here’s a sampling:

Mike Sansone/Iowa (Twitter id)

I don’t use delicious as much since the redisign (tho that’s not why), I’m finding I can easily bookmark on GoogRdr & FrndFd

Aurelio Montemayor/ Texas (Twitter id)

yes…our editor just held a second session on D. It’s helped me organize my favs and also accesses other’s favs

Damon Garrett/ South Korea  (Twitter id)

Inertia ties me to Delicious. Probably other ways to sync + tag b/marks, but it works. Not sure of the true social benefits.

Scott Drummond/Australia (Twitter id)

why not?I find delicious handy for tagging stuff I want to read later and for sharing stuff with certain firneds only.

My bookmarking strategy and what may have killed delicious?

First off, I notice a certain ambivalence about bookmarking sites in general from the above responses and my bookmarking strategy may offer some answers.

There are two kinds of bookmarks in everyone’s life:

1. Personal bookmarks (Home/Work)

Private bookmarks that I don’t want shared across the world. A Firefox extension called Foxmarks does a decent job of syncing my personal bookmarks between work and home – even going so far as creating a separate profile for each. Hopefully, in the future, Mozilla will get their act together with Weave, achieving something similar.

On a larger scale, I think the ability to share articles I read both on Facebook (via Posted Items) and LinkedIn (via News) enables me to broadcast my bookmarks among a larger yet still private social network of mine.

2. Public/Shared bookmarks

Google Reader, which I’m addicted to, makes it super easy to share articles I read (both inside and outside of Reader). Plus, everything shared/bookmarked is searchable and publicly visible on a Shared Bookmarks page.

Here’s where it gets better. Using a cool service called Twitterfeed, I can then populate my Twitter feed with the articles I share on Google Reader! Facebook too, allows me to import my Google Reader page. So, more than 2000 of my followers get to read what’s on my mind via my bookmarks.

Bottomline: As Damon mentions above, not many people are aware of the social benefits of delicious anymore. This, combined with the emergence of effective alternatives (search and social networking sites) may have doomed delicious.

But, hey, that’s just my take. What in your opinion killed delicious? Or, do you think, they’re alive and kicking. Drop in your $0.02 in the comments section below.

Filed under: Curation

Is Facebook a walled tumblelog?

Quickest update (as of 6/29/007): Wow, this discussion just keeps going on and on… Earlier today, Steve Rubel thinks that Facebook is a walled garden and here’s a snippet:

That leads us to social networks and, in particular, Facebook. (I should preface this by adding that Edelman represents MySpace.)

Despite the age of openness we live in, Facebook is becoming the world’s largest, and perhaps most successful, walled garden that exists today.

Most social networks (which I am characterizing here broadly to also include sites like Flickr, Vox, and digg) let you determine what you share with the general public through Google vs. what you only share with your circle of friends. This level of flexibility is a win-win for everyone. If you don’t want to share anything you don’t have to. On the flip side, if you’re a voyeur, go for it.

For all of the excitement around Facebook and its application platform, it’s essentially a giant walled garden. You can embed virtually anything you want inside Facebook. Just like open APIs, Facebook’s developer program lets anyone create value in the ecosystem.

And, Jason Kottke concurs:

I’ve no doubt that Facebook is excited about their new platform (their userbase is big enough that companies feel like they have to develop for it) and it’s a savvy move on their part, but I’m not so sure everyone else should be happy about it. What happens when Flickr and LinkedIn and Google and Microsoft and MySpace and YouTube and MetaFilter and Vimeo and launch their platforms that you need to develop apps for in some proprietary language that’s different for each platform?

Quicker update (as of 6/25/007): Kent Newsome debates Facebook: the New Internet or gilded cage?:

Open API or not, there’s still a wall around Facebook. It’s hard to get data out of there and into the wild. As AOL found out, what people look at initially as a safe place to hang out can begin to look like a cage over time. I continue to believe that the blogosphere is the only network that matters, and that over time most people will elect to take control of their content and manage it via a wall-free platform. Anything that gets between a content provider and its users is by definition bad for the content provider. And there’s no need for a central registry of contact information- we have Google. Just do a search.

Quick Update: Feld Thoughts has stirred a mini-storm with his Facebook problem. His recent post summarizes what that problem with the new f8 platform is:

None of these Facebook apps developers are deriving any real benefits (if you are a Facebook apps developer and ARE deriving a tangible benefit, other than customer acquisition within the Facebook infrastructure, please weigh in.) In addition, Facebook has shifted all of the infrastructure costs to these apps developers, creating the “I have 250,000 users, now what?” problem.

On another note, I responded to Eric Schonfeld (Business 2.0) to his related post on Facebook:

Actually, I wrote a post on how I leverage Facebook for activities surrounding my social interests like movies or music and most f8 apps facilitate that.

However, LinkedIn focuses on helping me navigate my professional network and advance that part of my life; my career.

Having the two separate helps me better manage my already chaotic life!

Check out the TechMeme discussion or continue reading my original post below.

Ever since I spoke to Matt Cohler at the Web 2.0 Expo, I’ve been wanting to try Facebook and given the recent spurt in activity I’ve had a chance to try it out and notice that many of my friends are on it as well. Facebook is an interesting way to keep track of the various social activities that you’re passionate about and facilitates sharing that with your social network.

As an example, here are the activities in my life that Facebook allows me to keep track of and the f8 apps that facilitate it:

* Movies (f8 apps: Flixster and Netflix movies)

* Music (f8 apps:’s official app – love it)

* Photos (f8 apps: MyFlickr and ZuPort: Flickr)

* Politics (f8 apps: The Compass, Elections 08, Obama)

* So, Movies + Music + Photos + Politics + any f8 app you can throw into the mix = Mini-feed (yes, that controversial mini-feed)

An evolved walled tumblelog?

Think of the mini-feed as the evolution of twitter. So, in twitter you were hooked onto the various minutiae of your social network’s lives, on Facebook you do something similar, but a little bit more organized and richer. Well, let me back up here. Think of Facebook as an evolved tumblelog. So, what’s a tumblelog you may ask.

Jason Kottke, one of my favorite non-marketing bloggers, defined tumblelogs in 2005:

A tumblelog is a quick and dirty stream of consciousness, a bit like a remaindered links style linklog but with more than just links. They remind me of an older style of blogging, back when people did sites by hand, before Movable Type made post titles all but mandatory, blog entries turned into short magazine articles, and posts belonged to a conversation distributed throughout the entire blogosphere

…really just a way to quickly publish the “stuff” that you run across every day on the web. (Source: Wikipedia)

And, that’s exactly what Facebook is. Just better than the tumblelog definition above and far more effective, except that it’s a walled tumblelog. So when bloggers like Kent Newsome wonder why Facebook is better than blogging:

What is so much better about Facebook (and MySpace and other similar platforms) than an ordinary blog on a popular platform- say WordPress?

The answer, as Dare Obasanjo surmises, lies in Facebook’s richer solution a.k.a the tumblelog, but the dilemma is that it’s a walled tumblelog. So, there are really two answers: if your blog is a personal, social interaction tool that you use to communicate to a closed circle of friends then you’re better off with Facebook. It’s apparently WAY better than MySpace. On the other hand, if you’d prefer a public (maybe career focused) blog that helps define your online brand then Facebook cannot replace that. However, Facebook allows you to import your blog and share it with your social network through a feature called “Notes”. Nice!

(Disclosure: I work for LinkedIn, the professional networking site)

Filed under: Facebook, Tumblr


I was planning a post on podcasting (…again) but instead decided to make this a brief post on the event that was organized yesterday by proud parent Yahoo! at their headquarters in Sunnyvale.

(From l – r: Me, Nicole, Jeremiah, Chris, Kim)

I crept in towards the close (Thanks, Jeremiah, for the reminder) but I was glad I did since I got another opportunity to meet a bunch of cool bloggers. Here’s the “who’s whom” I met:

1. Dave McClure – The Master of 500 hats himself: It’s always great chatting with Dave. Currently he is building buzz around a new startup he’s focused on – oDesk. They have a very interesting premise to their business and one that truly proves that the world is indeed flat. Check out more on oDesk here.

Co-incidentally, oDesk will host the next version of Lunch 2.0, which will be a sequel to the hugely successful Hitachi version.

2. Kim: Couple of interesting facts about Kim. (1) Kim’s been blogging for 6 years (ya, you heard me right). and (2) Kim is also well known in the Bay Area for organizing art/geek events such as “Blogger Idol 2.0” where bloggers get to sing/dance their way to stardom. Well, I dont know if I got that right? However, I look forward to the next Blogger Idol event!

3. Nicole Simon: It was great meeting Nicole, author of three different weblogs and creator of a podcasting channel! Had an interesting conversation on the future of podcasting, videocasting and the death of television!

Feel free to check out Nicole’s many blog avatars here (personal), here (web 2.0) and here (podcast).

4. Greg Galant: Had a brief conversation with Gregory Galant, CEO of Radio Tail (blog), whose recent iMedia article I had discussed in this earlier post of mine.

…also had a chance to just say “Hi” to Chris Heuer, Kay Luo, Jeff Schwartz … I look forward to chatting more with them at future events.

Well, I did want to talk a little bit about this cool new data aggregator – netvibes that I started using recently, but I guess it’d take an entire post to describe what a great tool for marketers it is (think lead generation 2.0). So, stay tuned.

Filed under: Curation