Breaking Down Monoliths 1990′s Style

As a dorky/geeky middle schooler in the early 90′s, I remember the frustration of not being able to have my messages flow from Prodigy to users on other services such as CompuServe. We were locked in to virtual message board monoliths…

Prodigy (online service) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: “Two of Prodigy’s most popular services turned out to be its message boards and email. Because Prodigy’s business model depended on rapidly growing advertising and online shopping revenue, email was developed primarily to aid shopping, not for general communication between users, which in practice is what it became. The message boards resulted in users being connected to the service far longer than projected. This resulted in higher than expected expenses, adversely affecting the service’s cash flow and profitability.”

Eventually, the AOL monolith was hatched in the mid-90′s and that caused a great exodus to their platform. Prodigy, CompuServe, etc limped along for a few years but ultimately faded away into the nether.

Ultimately, AOL would be replaced by Friendster then MySpace and now a tripartite conglomeration of mostly Facebook, a little Twitter and Tumblr for the niche folks. Sure, there are Google+, the new, Foursquare, Yelp, as well. However, we’re back to where we were in 1993 with user lock in of messaging and communication.

I was elated when Twitter came into prominence and more mainstream adoption in 2007. I remember having coffee with Tris Hussey at an Affiliate Summit that year and discussing how Twitter would rapidly become a protocol similar to POP or IMAP or even TCP/IP that would serve as the social messaging backbone of the internet. It would allow for the delivery of content and messages between services and become something of an open messaging standard that was so lacking then and definitely is now.

We were wrong then and certainly wrong now about Twitter.

Maybe the new darling will solve this issue or fill this need. I hope so. Dalton certainly has high aspirations.

Head over to TWiT and listen to the last This Week in Google featuring Dalton Caldwell in which Leo and Kevin Marks really ask some great questions about’s future and long-term strategy. It’s the best podcast I’ve heard Leo do in a long while.

So back to 1992 and 2012, Dave’s post here is a pipe dream in the age of advertising being the backbone of our social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Google at least) but one I’ll happily add my support to:

We could make history — I.M.H.O. — Medium: “We need to break out of the model where all these systems are monolithic and standalone. There’s art in each individual system, but there’s a much greater art in the union of all the systems we create.”

Imagine a web where advertising supports, rather than impedes, network and social spaces working together.

Maybe that’s or maybe it’s a slow realization that RSS and hyperlinks are really the best way to have a decentralized social network backbone. It’s the reason I encourage my students all to have their own blog, their own space on the web… not just a Facebook or Twitter profile (and adults too).

I’m certainly betting on that as I have re-thought of this place less as my “blog” and more of my own self-hosted social presence on the web.

Sure, things will pipe out of here to Facebook and Twitter, sending signals to folks locked into those walled-gardens that I’ve updated something or shared something. However, I’ll be posting less and less direct stuff there and instead focusing on this being my coral reef.

It will happen to us all. Eventually.

Retention, Not Acquisition

The mantra (I know, I hate using that term out of context as well) I use with my clients is “Retention, Not Acquisition.”

That means businesses should put 75% of their efforts into retaining customers or users or community or whatever the relationship-model is with their constituents and 25% of their efforts into acquiring new ones.

Twitter should hire me…

Twitter: The Tail That Wags the Dog – David Smith: “However, Twitter seems to have forgotten its roots. The long tail of Innovators and Early Adopters at the head of the adoption curve does not become irrelevant to your audience once you begin to welcome the Majorities. The same people who pioneered the adoption of your platform would also be the people leading an exodus. That exodus may have just begun.”

A Day of Outages or Why I’m Sticking with RSS

I’m becoming more and more convinced that the best way for the web to work is for us all to have our islands of identity that are linked via coral reefs and communication channels.

Today has been a heck of a day for the web.

First Twitter.

Now Charter.

Mediums that we normally associate with stability and user interest continue to disappoint and disgust.

I’ve often talked about how I want to “Bring it All Back Home,” but I’m really close to pulling that trigger and relying on tried-and-trusted RSS as the vehicle to deliver that information rather than a walled island that I have to (or will have to) log in to such as Twitter or Facebook.

RSS – Wikipedia

I don’t trust my identity and my content to 3rd party islands anymore. This is me and for me and hosted by my dollars.

So here’s to a free, open and federated web.

If you want me, I’m here. Grab the RSS.

Twitter APIocalypse

And here we go…

Changes coming in Version 1.1 of the Twitter API | Twitter Developers: “At the end of June, I wrote about how we’re working to deliver a consistent Twitter experience, and how we would soon introduce stricter guidelines about how the Twitter API is used. I’d like to give you more information about coming changes to the API and the migration plan while offering insights into today’s Twitter ecosystem and why we’re making these changes.”

Sad to see awesome apps get called out:

That upper-right quadrant also includes, of course, “traditional” Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Echofon. Nearly eighteen months ago, we gave developers guidance that they should not build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.” And to reiterate what I wrote in my last post, that guidance continues to apply today.

This is not your parent’s twitter.

“People are crazy and times are strange, I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range, I used to care but things have changed.”

Hope this is true…

Wow, what a day.

Sublime Kicking and Screaming

I didn’t think I could ever use another text editor besides TextMate, but I’m learning to like Sublime Text 2 and its tabbed goodness:

Sublime Text: The text editor you’ll fall in love with: “Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup and prose.
You’ll love the slick user interface, extraordinary features and amazing performance.”

I do everything in a text editor that I save up to a sync’d Dropbox file.

This is a big big transition for me. Time to do it, though.

Kicking and screaming.

Spotting Pyramids from NC with Google Earth

Fascinating story for the history and archaeological aspects, but also interesting to note that Maiden, NC is where Apple’s iCloud lives.

Lost Egyptian Pyramids Found? : Discovery News: “Two possible pyramid complexes might have been found in Egypt, according to a Google Earth satellite imagery survey.

Located about 90 miles apart, the sites contain unusual grouping of mounds with intriguing features and orientations, said satellite archaeology researcher Angela Micol of Maiden, N.C.”

More here.