featured, General, Social

Video Interview About $200m Russian Facebook Investment

27 May , 2009  

Michael Arrington at TechCruch (a great site, btw) posted an interview on YouTube that he did with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner of Digital Sky Technologies, the investor who just plunked down a $200m investment in Facebook at a $10B valuation.

The interview focuses on the question of why Zuckerberg took the investment, how this investment was a bargain comparted to the Microsoft (and other) investment made at a $15B valuation in 2007, and opens the question of whether Facebook will be doing much more with acquistions this year.

You’ll find this interesting if you like to follow the investment and financial side of social media companies.

featured, General

Is Your Avatar Doing You Justice?

27 May , 2009  

In a blog post It’s All About The Faces, Brad Feld talked about the impact on his readers after changing from his normal portrait style avatar to a more artistic version. Followers commented how he seem so much less accessible, resulting in Brad changing back to his orginal picture.

That blog post immediately reminded me of a somewhat releted experience I had that same day. While creating a new group on Facebook, I ran into some challenges when trying to invite some of my Facebook friends to the group. For some reason my web browser would only display my friends avatars, and not their names, so I could only identify them by the avatar they’d selected. Many friends were easy to recognize, I was shocked by how many I was unable to recognize only having an avatar to go by.

Why? The friends I couldn’t immediately identify all had something other than a picture of themselves for their avatar. Examples included bears in a field, pictures of their babies and kids, scenary from a vacation or favorite location, far off shots that basically showed the person in sillotte, or they were just difficult to make out in the picture.

Now, I’m not saying it’s bad to be creative with your Facebook, Twitter or other social networking avatar. But the avatar you chose may impact friends and followers and the connection they feel with you. Some of my friend’s avatars have the person’s face front and center. I really like those because I immediately feel I know who I’m talking to, and in some esoteric way it refreshes for me a small part of the relationship I have with them.

The Facebook experience caused me to think about my own choice of avatars. I rotate primarily between three pictures; the first two are more “professional” in nature with one being based on the same picture you see in the heading of this blog, and another taken from a video interview I did a while back with Network World. The third is a little more distant shot of me playing my project Strat guitar, which I use for my music and personal posts. Those first two are pretty clear pictures of me, and should make it easy to recognize me from my mug shot. The third is not as easy to make out, though playing music is a deep passion of mine and I do enjoy showing off my guitar. I suppose showing me in that way does present my connection with music, and that’s something most who have non-professional relationship with me know if an important part of who I am.

In any case, I think the important thing here is to recognize that your choice in the pictures you use to represent yourself via an avatar does influence both people’s ability to recognize you, and more importantly, to establish and re-establish their connection with you. Unless you’re twittering under an account used for your business, your choice in avatars is more than just your badge or logo, it’s you we’re talking about. After all, isn’t that what social networking is all about… enabling interpersonal relationships, and building communities with others based on interests, topics, events, work, pop culture and social causes?

So take 2 minites and go check out the avatars you’re using. If they don’t help others relate or connect with you, maybe it’s worth considering a new avatar or dusting off that avatar you set aside in favor of some new, more artistic but less personal version. Remember that ultimately, social networking is about you and the connections you build with others. Some cool new Facebook survey you completed may say you relate to the world as a bear, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world should see you that way or that you want them to.

featured, General, Microsoft

This Is The Matrix… On Microsoft Windows

25 May , 2009  

   My editor at Network World Microsoft Subnet, Julie Bort, posted this video parody of the movie The Matrix that pokes fun at Microsoft Windows. No matter if you’re a Linux fan, Mac user or you use Windows regularly, I think everyone will enjoy this video.


Blog, featured, Social

Recession Accelerating Social Media Adoption

23 May , 2009  

“Crisis brings opportunity to change.” Keep that quote in mind for a moment as you read this blog post.

You can’t watch a cable news channel, particularly CNN, without hearing some reference to Twitter. Facebook has pretty much supplanted myspace as the dominant social networking platform, thanks in large part all of the applications, groups, social causes and the beginnings of businesses using Facebook to reach customers. It’s pretty easy to find a blog post or a site about tips and common mistakes when using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogging and just about any other social media tool.

The activity I’ve seen lately seems to fall into six categories:

  • Folks who have been using social networking for some time now (experienced Twitter’ers, Facebook, etc.)
  • Individuals exploring the use of social media as part of an entrepreneurial, small business or “multiple streams of income” effort,
  • Business networking between professionals falling into business development, sales and professional networking,
  • Job seekers who have been laid off and are working to find their next position, or are proactively building up their network in case a pink slip event occurs,
  • Traditional media reaching out to readers and watchers through Twitter and blogging,
  • Spammers, lurkers, etc., using social media as an email replacement for lead generation.

I’m sure there are probably more classifications, but those stand out for me from my perspective. The social media topic comes up in the circles I operate in almost every day. Just as an example, I had lunch with a friend today and our discussion was all about social media, sharing experiences from blogging and social media, and how that applies to generating multiple streams of income.

The prior day’s lunch was with someone I work with and our discussion was all about using social media to more effectively start up and engage small, specific interest groups interested in volunteer activities. (Sounds like I must go out to lunch a lot, lol.)

At a business executive meetup group I attend bi-weekly, many of our discussion topics have been around social media’s application in business. All of this is representative of only a fraction of the conversations, projects (through my Converging Network business), email threads, and various inquiries I receive involving social media.

I have a theory about all of this activity — it’s being driven in part, possibly in large part, by the recession we’re currently in. Business has slowed across the board for most everyone. Everyone is trying to figure out how social media can help them network, identify new customers, find leads and business opportunities, get a lead on a job or increase our personal income.

I heard Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Bank) on Bill Maher’s show say, “crisis brings opportunity to change”. Muhammad was specifically referring to our over emphasis on making money and reform of our banking system, but that statement also applies to the growth we’re seeing in social networking.

People are reaching out. Some of it is for comfort… reaching out to old college friends, coworkers and family.  Part of it is driven by the motivations I listed above. But if in the end, one of the things the recession does is expand the relationships we have with other people, using social media or otherwise, then that is certainly one of the opportunities created out of crisis.