Monday, 11 May 2009

Will twitter become as ubiquitous as email or is it a fad?

I know blogging about Ashton Kutchner now makes me a late adopter when it comes to twitter goss but it's only recently that I've had a chance to take a good look at my psyche profile when it comes to twitter. 

Over the last year or so I've seen many blog posts and articles about the adoption process for twitter and unlike email, instant messaging and even sms where the benefits are obvious the one thing common to most of these writeups about twitter are that it takes a while for people to "get" twitter. Let me get back to this point a little later and jump to understanding who are the early adopters in twitter.

Apparently I joined twitter on the 3rd July 2007, or so I'm told by this site, which means that I've been using this service for almost two years. Sure, in the beginning it was on again off again but now it seems that I generally tweet anywhere between 7-10 tweets a day. Not a huge amount, and certainly enough to still stay connected with various other folk on twitter. When you look at the other people that were on twitter during that time, you'd notice that they fit a certain profile. One of the first people that I followed on twitter was @scobleizer who at the time raved about how it was a great way to tap into the minds of his then twenty or so thousand twitter friends. But if you look at him as an example, he is a tech blogger and it was his job to know what was the next big thing in social media. As I expanded my network I found that most people who were active on twitter were actually bloggers and much of the chatter was about social media (if not twitter itself). As time went on this group evolved into less tech related and through @christinelu intially, I also found people in China. Gradually my networks became less about geekiness and more about common interests. 

To cut a long story short though, I would consider myself on the tail end of the early adopters and as time went by, and the audience became more mainstream and certainly more interesting. This brings me back to my point about the first stage of twitter adoption.

When you look at the early adopters of Twitter it is not like the early adopters of email or instant messaging. When I used to chat up girls in other universities in the UTS computer labs, I used it because it made sense. I certainly wasn't going to pick up the phone and make an international call to flirt with someone whom I never met. It just made sense. Email is another example where it superceded normal post. It was a new way of doing something that we always did.

Twitter doesn't supercede anything unless you are in the business of broadcasting (in the journalistic sense) or blogging (which is really the evolution of the printed word). What twitter really supercedes is the newspaper seller on the corner shouting "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!"

I fully realise that I am over simplifying things and there are other issues related to engagement and interaction that I am ignoring but these other uses of Twitter are intiated by someone first tweeting something that someone else feels compelled to respond to.

That is why most people don't immediately "get" Twitter. Because the bulk of us aren't broadcasters. We don't feel the need to stand on a soap box and yell out our opinions. (The irony here is that DEDLOG is essentially my soap box.) For most of us we are quite content to just read about it and chat amongst our real friends. The early adopters who did "get" twitter were people who either wanted to be heard or are in the business of sharing information. 

Now about Ashton Kutchner, CNN and Oprah. What did they do to the twittersphere? They brought with them, through their influence and popularity, what looks to be the center of the bell curve. When these people who are doctors, students, accountants, brick layers, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, joined twitter they did so because they wanted to know what all the fuss is about. When they actually get onto Twitter, they are greeted with pointless ramblings from various celebrities, news they can get from the TV or newspaper. In essence they joined a platform that provides them with junk. This pretty much explains why in a recent Neilsen study, they found that 60% of new twitterers dropped out after a month.

Will twitter become as ubiquitous as email? My feeling right now is that it won't, for the simple reason that not everyone needs a soap box. The same reason why not everyone who uses MSN Messenger has their own podcast. 

How long will Twitter last? It's likely that it still has a good three to five years to go before something better comes along (or Twitter evolves into something else) but give it another 12 months we will reach the tail end of the bell curve and people will realise that (unless they are willing to dedicate time away from real social interaction with this type of faux social interaction) Twitter will become another, albeit better, news and information source that is made up of bloggers, journos, advertisers and the those who manage to filter out the noise to get to the content.

Friday, 8 May 2009

China Media Project » Blog Archive » Looking back on Chinese media reporting of school collapses

For the record.
What happened to the Sichuan Schools 360 days ago.

Posted via email from Dedric's posterous

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Don't forget

Today, I was reminded that next week on the 12th May marks the anniversary of the Great Sichuan Quake. It doesn't feel like a year and even from the safety of Shanghai as I morbidly watched this disaster unfold , I was moved on a daily basis by stories of tragedy, bravery, unity and cowardice. I could not believe that such an event could happen and even now I cannot fathom how, so easily, millions of people were displaced and nearly 70,000 men, women and children lost their lives.

I still feel outrage at the disproportionate number of schools that crumbled and the loss of an entire generation of children. I am still impressed at the speed at which aid was deployed and yet disappointed at the governments refusal to accept all assistance from those with the equipment and know-how to save more lives. I still feel pride when I think of Chinese children breaking open their piggy banks to give what they could help those left homeless by the quake.

Most of all I am reminded that life is as precious as it is fragile and I write this to remind you on the 12th May to remember. To remember the humanity that this tragedy brought out in all of us and to celebrate life.

2.28pm, 12th May - Lean on your horn!

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from Dedric's posterous

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Jury's still out on the Seesmic Desktop but it's chances are getting better.

If you've been following my twitter feed you'll know that since the Seesmic Desktop added Facebook integration and follow/ unfollow buttons on the latest version of their 'Preview" client I've made a concerted effort to give the app a fair go even though I've already said that I'm pretty much a Tweetdeck person. 

To give credit where credit is due though, the Seesmic Desktop is a really nice tool. Using it as my primary twitter client for the last couple of days I've found a number of features that are really quite useful that are deficient in Tweetdeck. 

First of all, the main reason I decided give Seesmic Desktop another chance was because in the latest update, it included the Facebook integration. As this was included in the latest Tweetdeck update too I wanted to see if it was a question of keeping up with the Joneses however the good folk at Seesmic have one upped Tweetdeck as it pulls not only status updates from Facebook but also wall posts and integrates images and screen grabs from links onto the window. Aesthetically it looks a lot more useful and informative especially since most people who only use Facebook (and don't update their Facebook profile via twitter) tend to update their status less frequently than they post links or images. 

The other area where Seesmic Desktop has one upped Tweetdeck is that it allows you to "like" a Facebook post. Tweetdeck so far only allows you to retweet a Facebook status update. I imagine the race is on to see which client will allow you to comment on posts via the client although I am not entirely sure this will be possible as the Facebook team still probably wants you to visit the site and click on their ads from time to time. 

Another feature I'd like to see is if either of the clients decides to integrate albums into the features then they will be delving into Orsiso territory which I still keep installed because it is by far still the most attractive way to view Facebook & Flickr albums all in one place. I imagine they won't do so though as it will just bloat the app too much.

The other feature that Seesmic have added in their latest update is the follow/ unfollow functions that appear in the "cog" icon when you roll over profile images which is a feature that I imagine was always on the cards but only just rolled out. All in all, as mentioned before, the Seesmic offering is much slicker than the Tweetdeck one and you'd think that switching over was just a matter of time. The problem that I come back to though is that aside from the features, I believe that for existing Tweetdeck users the issue is really desktop real estate. As you can see from the image, Tweetdeck still uses the entire screen for feeds but Seesmic has a left side column for the menu and the top side input box, both of which cannot be hidden at this stage. As a user who tends to squint at his 12.1 inch notebook from his bed rather than a 21 inch widescreen monitor, this little issue just makes Tweetdeck more efficient on the eyes. This would of course be much worse for people using netbooks with a mere 9 or 10 inches or screen space available.

So the jury is still out as to whether I will switch to Seesmic but I will continue give it a couple more days as my primary client to see if I can get used to it but the deal clincher for me will be if Seesmic Desktop will allow me to hide the input box and menus when I don't need it and which client will let me comment on Facebook first.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Apple Marketing Lesson 2: People don't want great products, they want sexy bad ones.

Not too long ago a wrote a post about the genius of Apple and the management of the product life cycle for the iPhone. This evening as I was skimming through my Google Reader, three of the best (in my opinion) gadget blogs, CrunchGear, Engadget and Gizmodo were running posts about the next generation iPhone having video editing capabilities.

Granted that this just is a rumour, but if this turns out to be true then I question whether Apple is actually that brilliant in their product management or are we, and the marketing departments every the other mobile phone company, completely retarded.

Video capabilities on the iPhone is only blogworthy because of it's absence in the current two iPhone models on the market. Both Sony Ericsson and Nokia's N-Series phones have had excellent photographic and video capabilities for years. Not that I see anyone carrying it around anymore but the Nokia N92 and N93i even looks like a camcorder.

As an amateur marketing critic, I can only conclude that if I wanted to develop and sell a product that will become the stuff of legends, the objective is not to design the best product that ever existed but instead to design something that falls just short of expectation, and then meet those expectations over an extended period.

Ive also realised that for Apple this is not a new strategy. Just think about other products they've launched in the past. Why didn't the old white MacBook have a full featured multi-touch touch pad like the MacBook Pro even though it could easily have been fixed with a software update? How many years did it take for the Mighty Mouse to come out and provide 2 button functionality? (even though loyal Mac users still continue to argue they don't need contextual menus)

Company's like Nokia or even Microsoft could learn from this valuable lesson.

Don't launch products that can do more. Design something that SHOULD be able to do more but don't and let the consumers pine for it.

Like I said before! Genius!