Jul 30 2012

Social Networks for Developers and Designers

There is a growing number of social networks and websites that are targeting software developers and graphic designers. Some of these sites, most notably github, have been used as a recruiting tool and in the interview process in hiring developers.

github
Even though it is not strictly a social networking site, github has a lot of social and collaborate features that make it resemble one. But instead of posting your latest vacation pictures, you can post the programing source files for the open source projects you are working on. You can post any source code, from a single script file you find useful to a larger project.

coderwall
Coderwall allows developer and designers to post their skills and achievements and earn achievement badges. If someone forks your project on github, you get a badge. If you were a early github user, you get a different badge.

Coderwall Homepage

Coderwall Homepage

Forrst
Forrst feels like a Twitter or Tumblr for technologists. You can follow people, post images or ideas, and like and comment other people’s posts.

geekli.st
Similar to other social networks, on geekli.st you can follow other users, high five their accomplishments.

Geeklist Homepage

Geeklist Homepage


Jun 14 2012

User Adoption Bubble

It’s clear that we are in a bubble. I am not saying we are in a stock market bubble, even though most tech investors will agree that private valuations are frothy and that this frothiness is caused by the bubble in which we are in, a user adoption bubble. Where it used to take a long time for people to adopt a new technology, now new products and services gain more users faster than ever before. It took decades for traditional telephone companies to get a signification penetration rate, were as mobile carriers already have garnered an estimated 97% penetration rate in the United States. A similar user adoption rate acceleration can now be experienced by startups that execute well, Facebook has a stepper adoption curve than Yahoo did, and Google Plus had a steeper adoption curve still for its number of Daily Active Users. Products that execute well, such as Instagram, can see an adoption rate that is appealing to investors. An increase in user adoption rate, especially at the 1 million to 50 million user accounts, and a decrease in the cost of running a startup has been a key factor to the trends we have seen in Silicon Valley. The formula, as demonstrated by Instagram, is simple; small team + millions of users = a billion dollar valuation.

Even though some social networking related startups have seen user fatigue, I don’t see or expect the user adoption bubble to burst at an industry level any time soon, especially for well startups that consistent execute on user engagement and amazement. At the individual product or service we’ve already seen where companies have faltered, such as the reports that Draw Something has seen a significant drop in daily users.

The user adoption bubble has been brought on by a number of factors including the ubiquity of internet access, growing number of smart devices and inexpensive computers, as well as social engaging techniques such as poking, liking, following, retweeting, pinning, etc.


Feb 18 2012

Retweet January 2012

From time to time I just blast tweets about software development, project planning, team dynamics, or whatever else comes to mind. Here is a synopsis of recent tweets and rants. If you want to follow the conversation follow me at techknow and/or juixe.

Software Development

  • Even I’m surprised to know how many people use code that I wrote and tested on a train ride to my work.
  • What will be the preferred web development platform in 2012?
  • The default should always be opt-in.
  • legislation != innovation
  • Data to the people.
  • Technology is democratizing idiocy.

Team Leadership

  • If knowledge is power, than data is the source of power.
  • If you think your business model is finished, you are finished.
  • Doers gonna do.
  • Most managers have 20% time, the time spent not looking ignorant about some aspect of technology.
  • Better than picking your battle, pick the time of the battle, better still pick the your combatant, even better still put it on pay-per-view
  • In space no one can hear you scream, in the interwebs no one will let you forget it.
  • I had a dream that I had woken up at 10am and that I was late for work, I panicked and woke up from the dream and it was only 5am.
  • I absolutely hate absolutism of any kind!
  • If you want to have your cake and eat it too it is best to bake it yourself.
  • So-so is the enemy of awesome.

Product Placement

  • I wish there was a entrepreneur version of television show Deal or No Deal.
  • Green Burrito is the worst name for a fast food fastaurant.
  • It’s clear that @Google has Facebook envy, especially with their new privacy policy.
  • I’ll never use a social networking site if it requires a government ID for me to log in.
  • How can Google claim that G+ supports pseudonyms if they may review and require government ID for you to prove that is your real pseudonym.
  • People forget that Google’s “Don’t be evil” motto is an abbreviated form of “Don’t get caught being evil.”
  • Would William Shakespeare publish his works on the Apple iBooks platform?

Question

  • What is worse than bullshit or bullballs?
  • Why do bills arrive faster than cash?
  • How do you become the thought leader on thought leadership?
  • In what food group are gummy bears in?
  • Is it really made in the USA if it’s made of Italian leather from Spanish cows?

Randumb

  • Old hippies never die, they just cut their hair, take a shower, and become The Man.
  • If it was up to the movie/music industry, all Americans would have to pay a Copyright tax off 5% across the board.
  • Only one of the infinite parallel universes will end on 2012. Which universe are you in?
  • Many people on Hoarders are not true die hard hoarders, they are lazy and messy.
  • Complaining about the use of the #FirstWorldProblems hashtag is a #FirstWorldProblem.
  • I like cats but dislike cat people.
  • Just like haters gonna hate, cheaters gonna cheat.
  • The key of love is to know when to let go.
  • Fame made me do it.
  • Haters love me.
  • The future has no past.
  • Each day you die a little.
  • I like watching the future in reverse.
  • At the Hispanic section in a Chinese store.
  • If time flies, it must have lost its luggage.

Sep 12 2011

Retweet August 2011

From time to time I just blast tweets about software development, project planning, team dynamics, or whatever else comes to mind. Here is a synopsis of recent tweets and rants. If you want to follow the conversation follow me at techknow and/or juixe.

Software Development

  • More code, more problems.
  • Code. Money. Respect.
  • Code war is the new cold war.
  • The programer-designer is the philosopher-king or our time.
  • Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to gold farm and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

Team Leadership

  • When the world is flat and information freely available there is a premium on creativity.
  • There is no such thing as free lunch, especially if it’s lobster.
  • Give a silicon valley startup founder a lemon and he’ll make a social networking site for people that like lemonade.

Product Placement

  • I hope Twitter doesn’t become the next MySpace.
  • There is no i in Apple.
  • Google is buying Motorola for $12.5 Billion. Google is also developing a autonomous car, so in a few years it might buy Ford.
  • It’s not Thanksgiving, so why did Google pay so much for a moto turkey?
  • AT&T charges for services you use and most importantly for services you don’t, and they sell you out to the feds on top of that.
  • I know that many G+ users are still in the early adopter stages of denial, but honestly, Google does not know how to do social right.

Quote

  • Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant. – P.T. Barnum
  • Wall Street is now a huge mathematical game of chess where individual companies are just pawns. – Mark Cuban
  • Search is dead. What people want is an answer. … You don’t need Trip Advisor, you don’t need Yelp. – @Jason, #TWiST 171

Questions

  • Got Woot?
  • You think Papa Murphy’s is related to Papa John’s?
  • Has Flash lost it’s fizzle?
  • If G+ was spun out of Google as an independent company it would be valued at $50 billion.
  • What company will be around in 25 years, Apple, Zynga, Facebook, Google, eBay, Microsoft, …???
  • Now they are making movies in 4D… What is next, 7D?
  • If this is your third startup, are you really still a starting up?
  • I just want to know, why are those birds so angry?

Randumb

  • When life gives you bullshit, make lemonade.
  • Untangling headphones in the dark.
  • Current Status: somewhere between FML and IDGAFF.
  • Zoned out from being on the zone for so long.
  • The future is retro.
  • Don’t trust your shit to chance.
  • MTV has as much expertise to produce MTV’s Music Awards as the History Channel’s has to produce Ancient Aliens.
  • It’s ironic how many people misuse the word irony.
  • Even though I haven’t gone back to school for a while now, I can’t resist a good Back To School sale!
  • I tired of Shark Week. When will they have Turtle Week or Salamander Week?
  • If Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were to be created now they would have been known as Angry Turtles.
  • Total Retargeting
  • Shift+Happens

Jul 25 2011

Google Plus Begins to Stumble

Since it’s initial private launch, Google Plus has received mostly positive reviews from tech insiders that were able to score an invite early on. I was able to get my hands to an invite a day or two after Google Plus, often abbreviated as G+, launched. This is not my first social network, I was an early adopter on Twitter, I was there before @aplusk, and I had the same experience with Tumblr and Quora. Each time a new social network is launched and before the mob of celebrities and social media marketing experts join, these services are often seeded with early adopters from the tech scene. Even with it’s 20 million users, G+ is still in this early adopter stage and this is evident by the list of most followed users on the network. The most followed profiles are those from technologists and tech pundits, including former first friend on MySpace Tom Anderson. A few years ago, this was virtually the same list of most followed users on Twitter.

Google Plus does innovate on a few areas where Facebook has lagged and dragged it’s feet, such as in the concept of circles. That said, Google Plus is largely a clone+ of Facebook, which is a derivative of whatever social trend we’ve seen in the last five years. Depending on how you count, Google Plus is Google’s fourth attempt at this social networking thing. The current trend in social networking sites is that anonymity is to be banned. Facebook was the first social network to demand users use their real and legal names in their profiles and Google Plus has followed this trend.

Since Google Plus is the newest social networking site to see an exponential growth, it is now going through some growing pains in the way Google is policing the community. There have been a large number of reports of Google banning and disabling Google Plus profiles that don’t use “real names.”

The worst part, for those whose accounts have been locked out, is that there is no customer support, no due process, and not even a G+ profile to contact if your Google account is disabled or banned our right. If your Google account is disabled you may be locked out of GMail, Google Docs, and other Google products you may use, which might be have years of data.

The natural progression of these policies is that in the near future people will need to show their government issued identification card, passport, DNA sample, work history and resume, retinal scan, and perhaps a Google history scan to use Google Plus or similar social network. I can appreciate that Google wants to encourage people to use their real names, but there are so many instances beyond their automated algorithmic logic that people use nicknames, pen names, aliases, alternative spellings, stage names, witness protection name, and more. Is Google Plus going to force Jon Stewart to use his birth name? What about Lady Gaga? What about Dear Abby? Larry Brin uses the short form for Lawrence, is that okay? And don’t get me started with folks that are known by their initials or by their profession title such as Dr. Dre.

So why is Google, and Facebook for that matter, so against anonymity? It’s all about the data. The more data Google has on each user, the better they can serve ads targeting them. Google Plus is a user data collection service as much as it is a social network. Google Plus gives Google a new platform to collect even more data that it can then sell, trade, and use to target ads. Currently, most of Google’s ads work on the intent of the user. The more Google knows about the people in your circles, their name, age, background, location, work history, interests, trends, and communication patterns it can easily develop social ads that target you and your inner most circle members.

This whole debate is a red herring, the real issue is about the identifying data that Google is collecting on each profile.  There are already a large number of third parties that are forming a “fourth bureau” of sorts that collects any and every piece of information such as if you pay a phone bill on time or if you spend 6 hours in the middle of the day playing FarmVille.


Jun 1 2011

Never Underestimate Your User

Never underestimate your users, if you do you’ll soon hear about it. Software is often built with assumptions about your users. Your user will be an accountant, your user will understand the labels, your user has experience with Excel, your user is this, that, and the other. Never make blanket assumptions of how your software will be used.

There are assumptions built in in every input field and user control element in software. Common assumptions baked in the User Interface of applications is that your users live in the United States, that they have a zip code or a telephone of a certain pattern. I’ve seen problems with file upload mechanisms when users try to upload a 500 MB PDF document and the server crashes, or when a user tries to enter 10,000 character comment and the database truncates 90% of it.

Facebook and Twitter have learned how to hedge users behavior that could lead to problems with limitations. Twitter best exemplifies this by the 140 character limit of each status update and the 2000 limit on the number each twitter account can follow. The 2000 follower limit can be increased but only when at least that many people follow you back. Facebook has a similar hard coded number of friends you can have.

The less assumptions you built into the software, the easier to use it will be. But as you remove assumptions, consider having caps, limits, and restrictions in case you start to have scaling issues.