Friday, September 29, 2006

Web 2.0 Exit Strategies

Marco Rosella has an interesting idea about how companies can promote their exit strategies at the upcoming Web 2.0 Conference ... (Note – this is meant to be humorous):

“The success of a new service, if really demonstrated itself different from all the others, however could decree the end: where there’s a lack of Venture Capitals and/or the ads are to cover the band costs, naturally proportional to the traffic, the only reason of survival remains the sell to a big company.


As we know by now, Web 2.0 web application’s interfaces have their peculiar style defined by reflections, fades, drop-shadows, strong colors, rounded corners and star badges, these standing out in the header of every homepage.

Badges are the key element of this kind of design, being the first to flash user eyes, and so extremely important for the right communication of a message with fundamental importance.

Below you’ll find some example badges, arranged in four incremental levels, each one related to a different business model.” (Quote from Central Scrutinizer)

This is a humorous way to portray the current environment; however, it highlights a serious issue facing web 2.0 companies. With so many new web 2.0 companies, it becomes difficult to stand out in the crowd. Not all of them are looking to rise above the crowd in order to exit the business, but even getting mindshare with users can be difficult. Those that succeed in growing a large user base tend to do so virally, YouTube / MySpace / / etc., which is difficult to predict. Web 2.0 companies will need to focus on finding ways to get attention. Maybe the acquire me badges are not such a bad idea :-)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Is MySpace worth $10 - 20 BILLION?


According to RBC Capital analyst Jordan Rohan, it might be possible. “Rohan said MySpace could demonstrate a value of between $US10 billion and $US20 billion within a few years. Acknowledging he was making an 'audacious claim' he justified the forecast on the basis of MySpace's 'raw, unprecedented user/usage growth.'” (Quote from Sydney Morning Herald).

This is bubble talk. Paul Kedroski thinks that “putting up oversized estimates of a company's value is mostly a marketing move for a financial analyst, not an exercise in company valuation. The number doesn't matter; it is simply a piece of red meat to attact the media pack.” (Quote from Infectious Greed).

Occassionally analysts get caught up in the excitement of the next new thing to make wild predictions about technology (aka the hockey stick projection). We saw way too many of these predictions during the dot-com bubble. Looking back at projections made in 1999 and early 2000, how many predicted that [insert name now defunct company here] was in a position to take over the world in just a few short years?

In reality, technologies rarely, if ever, continue meteoric rises, and MySpace is no different. Yes, MySpace has had tremendous growth. Yes, they are one of the most frequently visited sites on the Internet. However, two things are likely to prevent MySpace from hockey stick growth:

  • First, young people are fickle when it comes to trends. MySpace is the hottest social networking site right now, but it may not be as hot in a few years. The younger participants may find another site more interesting as they become old enough to participate, or another company may target the below 14 crowd and keep them as they grow older.

  • Second, growth will stabilize as the market gets saturated. A new group of 14 year-olds become old enough to use the site every year; however, at the same time, others will drop off as they outgrow it or move on to other interests.

I am not saying that MySpace will crash and burn anytime in the near future. I suspect that it will continue growing at a *reasonable* rate (just not at an exponential rate).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Class Action Lawsuit Against AOL for Privacy Violations

In classic AOL fashion, when receiving complaints about privacy concerns related to the release of search results for 600,000 customers, AOL responded by offering them a free month of AOL ... a service that is already free. Interesting.

Here are the details from John Paczkowski at

Filed Friday, the suit accuses AOL of violating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, of fraudulent and deceptive business practices, and beyond that of a peerless ineptitude in its handling of the matter. "As of the date of this complaint it is the understanding of plaintiffs and their counsel that AOL has not done anything to help the members whose personal sensitive and confidential records were released to the public by AOL," the complaint alleges. "AOL members who sought assistance from AOL about the disclosure of the Member Search Data were not offered any assistance. AOL's only response, if any, was to offer the victimized member a free month of AOL service, a service which AOL is now offering for free." (Quote from

As we move more and more of our lives online, we need to spend more time thinking about privacy and security concerns, especially when we start to centralize our searching, email, calendars, blogs, chat, etc. with a single provider (AOL, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc.) At the minimum, people need to better understand the risks of what can happen when our private information is made public.

Monday, September 25, 2006

New Sponsorship Model for Blogs / Websites

TechMeme just released their new sponsorship model, and their approach is bit different from what we have been seeing on most sites. The typical sponsorship model involves either Google-style AdSense ads or TechCrunch-style sponsorship logos. Both of these are great models; however, I think that the TechMeme model is the best possible model for TechMeme, and it would also work well on other sites.

For anyone not already familiar with TechMeme, it “is an entirely automated web service that looks at what bloggers are talking about, and linking to, and decides what is news based on that analysis.” (Quote from TechCrunch). The sponsors have a place on the sidebar (clearly labeled as the sponsorship section) where the sponsoring company's most recent blog entry is displayed along with their logo. In other words, to refresh their ad on TechMeme, the company simply needs to add a blog entry, and the new link will propagate to TechMeme via an RSS feed.

I love this model. I almost never click on banner ads or sponsorship logos; however, if I see an interesting blog entry from one of the TechMeme sponsors, I would certainly click on it. I suspect that this model will drive more people to click through the ad, thus driving more traffic from TechMeme to the sponsor than a traditional ad might be expected to generate. The end result is that these type of ads will have more value for the sponsoring companies and TechMeme just might be able to charge more for these ads in comparison to a traditional ad.

Jeff Jarvis, an expert in online advertising, says:

“I like it. It’s relevant; it’s human and not automated; it’s appropriate to the form. And it pays. ... I think this works and I’ll be eager to hear the sponsors’ experience. I’d love to have a such a unit here.” (Quote from Buzz Machine).

I will be curious to see how others follow this example or modify it to create similar ads on other sites.

Using Wikis for Corporate Collaboration

I just posted an entry on my Intel Trends in Web 2.0 blog about how “Wikis can be a great collaboration tool for use internally within the corporate environment or externally for use with customers or clients.”

If you want to learn more benefits of using wikis and hear about how I have been recently using wikis for collaboration, please visit my Intel Trends in Web 2.0 blog.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Open Culture Blog Feed Issues

The Blogger Beta seems to be doing something a bit strange with my feeds causing problems in some feed readers. I suggest using my Feedburner feed instead of the default Blogger feeds. I will attempt to keep it stable through any additional Blogger Beta feed issues.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Viral Goofiness

These Dance Sister Dance videos are popping up all over the place, so I just had to do one of my own.

One of my personal favorites is the video with Scoble and Arrington.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Creative Uses for Flickr MiniCards

Ever wanted to easily hand out a few Flickr images? Moo has a service that prints your Flickr pictures on one side of a 28mm x 70mm card (about half the size of a standard business card) and contact information or any other text on the other side. As an added bonus to Flickr Pro users, you can get a free 10 pack of cards if you are one of the first 10,000 people to request a set. Others can order the 100 pack for $19.99.

I found out about this service on TechCrunch where many people leaving comments were getting a bit too hung up on whether or not people would use them as business cards. I tend to agree with some of the comments. Most professionals would not use these as business cards with the exception of a few artistic professions; however, looking outside of the business card box, I can think of several creative ways to use these cards.

  • Something cool and unusual to use in a more casual setting with friends and family.

  • Commemorative items for weddings, birthday parties, or some other event with pictures on one side and event details on the other.

  • Teenagers and college students using cards to share their email address, IM, cell number, and maybe a MySpace / Friendster account with new friends.

  • Invitations to an event.

Moo says:

“ cards are boring.

In an ambitious reinvention, that will address both form and function, MOO will take the business card back to its roots as a sophisticated social tool for non-business use and will introduce a new, advanced generation of calling card for the networked, mobile and social young communities of today. If you’re reading this, that’s you.” (Quote from

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Informal Portland BarCamp Meetup Scheduled for Sept. 28

Our first informal Portland BarCamp Meetup has been scheduled!

When: September 28
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00 pm
Where: Downtown Portland (exact location TBD)
Sponsored by: Jive Software

If you plan to attend, please RSVP on the Portland BarCamp Meetup wiki (RSVP required):

You may also want to join our Google Group ( to receive email announcements about any last minute changes (including location), future meetups, and other PortlandBarCamp communications.

The meetup on September 28 will be very informal. We'll do a few introductions, talk for a few minutes about organizing the BarCamp, and then see where the discussion goes.

Art of Community

I have been talking recently at conferences (OSCON and FooCamp) about the Art of Community as part of a project that Danese Cooper and I are doing for O'Reilly Media. We are in the process of writing a book on the Art of Community, which will start as a wiki with plans to write an initial first draft of the chapters, post them to the wiki, and allow the community to be our editors / collaborators on the project. We also plan to record a bunch of podcasts to include on the wiki and use as vignettes in the text of the book. We are still in the process of writing the chapter drafts, so the wiki is not yet public; however, we are looking for input and ideas.

If you have something interesting to say about community and would like to talk to us, please contact me: dawn at dawnfoster dot com.

Web 2.0 Company Pricing

Cartoon from Geek and Poke (found via Michael Arrington's CrunchNotes blog).

MySpace is #1 ... on the Worst Web Sites List

PC World just rated the 25 worst web sites with several classic oldies, like BonziBuddy,, and The Dancing Baby, making the list along with several modern sites including Hotmail and Microsoft Windows Update.

I was a bit surprised to see MySpace at the top of the list, but the MySpace site has its share of problems. I previously blogged about how MySpace could make better use of web 2.0 technologies and better leverage the MySpace community to improve their online help functions, but PC World has some different concerns.

PC World had several concerns about MySpace. First, the use of MySpace by online predators fuels politicians who can leverage parental fears about the Internet to win votes and promote other actions that impact our use of the Internet (net neutrality, VoIP wiretapping, etc.) Second, PC World suggests that many MySpace pages “look like a teenager's bedroom after a tornado--a swirl of clashing backgrounds, boxes stacked inside other boxes, massive photos, and sonic disturbance” in addition to hogging your CPU and being a haven for spyware. Third, MySpace could take more actions to protect minors.

I'm not sure that these are really fair concerns. First, if the politicians didn't have MySpace to fuel parental concerns to get more votes, there are plenty of other sites they could use as the poster child for why they should regulate more of the Internet. Second, of course it looks like a teenager's bedroom. These are teenagers, and MySpace is the online equivalent of their bedroom. It is their online haven complete with the typical mess and hazards akin to finding a slice of leftover pizza forgotten under the bed. The best that parents can do to alleviate their fears with online (and offline) concerns is to educate their children and give them the guidance and support to help them make the right decisions.

PC World wraps up their analysis with this:

“Is MySpace totally bad? Not at all. Are we old farts? Yeah, probably. But the Web's most popular site needs a serious security reboot. And probably a makeover. Until then, MySpace won't ever be OurSpace.” (Quote from PC World)

As an ancient MySpace user (at the age of 35), my page looks clean and tidy (like my house), and yes, I get annoyed by the busy pages that you can barely read due to clashing backgrounds combined with poor text color choices playing music I would never choose to listen to while taking forever to load. However, I know that teenagers will be teenagers, and this is their space, too.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Too Addictive

Thank you very much Marshall Kirkpatrick at TechCrunch. I just saw the post about blufr and had to check it out. I am now addicted.

Blufr is an online quiz with True / False answers (Way! or No Way!), but it keeps a point tally that goes up or down based on your responses. Careful, it is addictive.

Powered by
free online dictionary and more

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

LonelyGirl15 Identified

There has been quite a controversy brewing in the viral world of YouTube recently. I won't bother to rehash the summary, since Danah Boyd did a fantastic job of outlining the events leading up to the discovery that LonelyGirl15 was the creation of a group of filmmakers, and not a lonely, young teenager making videos in her bedroom.

Today, Silicon Valley Watcher has identified LonelyGirl15 as Jessica Rose, a 19-year old New Zealand actress.


Jessica Rose:

I think we have a match!

Thanks to Google cache, unless you were dropped into the online world out of thin air, your past can never be completely erased. A little scary, perhaps, but it reminds us to be a little cautious of how much we share online knowing that someone, somewhere, can unearth our online past.

The Great Encyclopedia Debate: Wikipedia vs. Britannica

The Wall Street Journal today contains an interesting debate between Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder and chairman of the Wikimedia Foundation, and Dale Hoiberg, senior vice president and editor in chief of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Here are a few of the most interesting snippets:

Wales: “We believe that encyclopedias should not be locked up under the control of a single organization, but a part of the healthy dialog of a free society.”

Hoiberg: “But there is little evidence to suggest that simply having a lot of people freely editing encyclopedia articles produces more balanced coverage. On the contrary, it opens the gates to propaganda and seesaw fights between writers with different axes to grind. Britannica draws from a community, just as Wikipedia does. Ours consists of more than 4,000 scholars and experts around the world who serve as our contributors and advisers. ... While Wikipedia may welcome scholars, all the reports I've seen suggest that most of the work is done by individuals who, though very dedicated, have little or no scholarly background.”

Wales: “Artificially excluding good people from the process is not the best way to gather accurate knowledge. Britannica has acknowledged the value of having multiple contributors, although of course because they are proprietary rather than freely licensed they would have a very hard time attracting the kind of talent that we have. The main thrust of our evolution has been to become more open, because we have found time and time again that increased openness, increased dialog and debate, leads to higher quality. I think it is a misunderstanding to think of "openness" as antithetical to quality. "Openness" is going to be necessary in order to reach the highest levels of quality. Britannica has long been a standard bearer, and they have done a fine job within their model. But it is time to work in a different model, with different techniques made possible by new technologies but the same goals, to reach ever higher standards.”

Hoiberg: “I can only assume Mr. Wales is being ironic when he says Britannica would have a hard time attracting the kind of talent that Wikipedia has. Britannica has published more than a hundred Nobel Prize winners and thousands of other well-known experts and scholars. Contrary to Wikipedia, Britannica's contributor base is transparent and not anonymous.”

Wales: “We have spoken openly about some of the challenges and difficulties we face at Wikipedia. Not long ago, you suffered some bad publicity due to errors in Britannica. Have you considered changing your model to allow quick, transparent responses to such criticisms as a way to achieve a higher quality level? “

Hoiberg: “I must point out that Mr. Wales's inclusion of two links in his question to me, one to Wikipedia itself, is sneaky. I have had neither the time nor space to respond to them properly in this format. I could corral any number of links to articles alleging errors in Wikipedia and weave them into my posts, but it seems to me that our time and space are better spent here on issues of substance.”

Wales: “Sneaky? I beg to differ. On the Internet it is possible and desirable to enhance the understanding of the reader by linking directly to resources to enhance and further understanding.”

Quotes from the Wall Street Journal

We have not resolved the great encyclopedia debate, and we probably never will. Both models have their strengths and weaknesses, and as a result, both can probably learn from the other, which is why the title of the WSJ article, Will Wikipedia Mean the End Of Traditional Encyclopedias?, is so misleading. The title implies a black and white solution to an increasingly gray world . We can have both a community encyclopedia and a traditional encyclopedia without having to choose one over the other. This gray world that we live in has enough room for both approaches to continue and thrive.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Smackdown: Browser-based Apps vs. Desktop Apps

Richard MacManus is running a poll at the Read / Write Web to determine whether people prefer desktop or browser apps. A day later, the results so far show that 62% prefer browser-based apps while 38% prefer webified desktop apps.

Judging by the comments, people fall into a few camps:

  • Desktop-based code is faster:
    “I have no clue who could possibly prefer web-based applications over ones running on your own computer. Native code, faster rendering, more memory, more bandwidth... how could 'oooh, how neat, it works in my browser' compete with any of those?” (Comment 1 from Mike Rundle)

  • I need to share my apps across multiple computers:
    “Well, I use five different computers on any given day, four windows XP and one Mac. You tell me how on earth am I going to enjoy apps running on any one of those PCs” (Comment 2 from hombrelobo)

  • Both are great for different reasons:
    “Basically what I'm saying is that certain apps (like productivity apps) are better suited for the Web, where production apps still have their place on my hard drive. So choosing between them is a little like choosing between my children, or maybe more like choosing between my cars, or maybe more like choosing room to take a nap in.” (Comment 8 from Steve Swedler)

In today's world of near constant connectivity where work, home, coffee shops and airports are increasingly enabled for wireless, I tend to lean heavily toward browser-based apps. I am essentially forced to use Microsoft Outlook / Office / Communicator as part of the work environment; however, these are not the apps that I would select given a choice, and my personal usage tends to be browser-based with only a few exceptions. I almost always have Gmail, Meebo (IM), and Netvibes (RSS reader) open in Firefox tabs, and I use Google calendar, Blogger, and Remember The Milk (task list) at least daily. I also use a couple of desktop apps every day, mostly and iTunes (podcasts), but not nearly as often as I use the browser-based apps.

This is a drastic change from a few years ago when connectivity was far from constant. I tended to prefer desktop apps to keep my data available when I was offline. Now, I find that the need to be connected is nearly ubiquitous. Even when reading email offline, people have embedded links to relevant information requiring a network connection to finish reading many of my emails. Over the past 6 months or so, the only time I usually find myself without any network connection is on airplanes. This just gives me an excuse to catch up on reading.

Remember The Milk

I have been trying to get my personal life just a bit more organized, so I decided to try a web-based task manager. Based on a TechCrunch review of online to do lists, I decided give Remember The Milk a try. As a bonus, the company is also partially run by a stuffed monkey.

Remember The Milk has all of the cool web 2.0 features. You can tag your tasks and view them in a tag cloud if you just want to see tasks related to a specific tag or get a feel for which tags have the most tasks associated with them to see where you are spending your time. It also has a cool location feature where you can give each task a location and see them all together on a map. This could be great for someone planning sales calls or deciding how to most efficiently run a bunch of errands spread across the city.

You can associate notes, URLs, time estimates, due dates (single or repeating), priorities and more with each individual task. You can put all of your tasks together or spread them among several different lists to separate personal, work, and other types of tasks. Reminders can be sent to via email, IM, Skype, mobile phone, and other methods to make sure that you never forget a task.

The only thing that does not seem to work well is the RSS feeds. Netvibes will not recognize the feed at all and when I use the Firefox live bookmarks each task has a name like “2006-09-09T16:16:40Z” ... not particularly helpful.

So far, Remember The Milk seems to be a good tool for managing my tasks despite the issues with the RSS feed.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Portland BarCamp and Meetups

Raven Zachary from The 451 Group is trying to get a critical mass of people here in Portland, OR for a local BarCamp. Dates are still TBD, but please drop your name on the Portland BarCamp Wiki if you are interested in attending (or helping organize). For anyone not familiar with BarCamp, it is an ad-hoc tech “gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees.” (

I am also talking to Raven about organizing something a little less intense than a full BarCamp event. I was thinking something more like a meetup where a group of cool people interested in technology could chat over drinks one evening about every month or so. I will be emailing a few local techie friends of mine, but if you live in the Portland area and are interested in joining us, please drop a comment on this blog entry or send me an email. If we get enough interest, I'll put something up on the BarCamp wiki to help us get organized.

At this point, I'm assuming this will be a “buy your own” ... in other words, no free beer unless some nice Portland company would like to sponsor us :-)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Intel Layoff Update

Thanks to all of the friends who have emailed and IMed me over the past couple of days checking in to see if I have been spared the ax. So far, so good ... I am still employed. For those of you living under a rock (or camping in the woods over the past few days), Intel just announced the latest update on the progress of our efficiency efforts:

The workforce will decline to approximately 92,000 by the middle of 2007 – 10,500 fewer than the company's employee population at the end of the second quarter of 2006.(Quote from Intel Press Release)

According to the Associated Press:

About 5,000 of the affected positions have already been cut or will be eliminated this year through a previously announced management layoff, the pending sale of two businesses, and attrition, said Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy.

The company plans to cut about 2,500 more jobs by the end of the year. The remainder will be shed in 2007, when Intel's head count will settle around 92,000, Mulloy said. (Quote from Associated Press)

Others in the blogosphere (The Last Podcast for example) have been looking to Intel employees for more information on what this means; however, the reality is that we know as much as you do. The internal employee announcement today was similar to, if not identical, in content to our press release. This is a reflection of Intel's open culture: tell the employees first closely followed by an announcement to the press with the same information.

All I can offer is my perspective. While I was happy to see progress and an announcement with some numbers to help employees understand the magnitude of the upcoming restructuring, I would have liked to see a speedier resolution. Based on the information announced today, the restructuring will drag into the middle of 2007. During any period of uncertainty, we will lose too many of the good people who decide to proactively leave rather than waiting to see who will be let go. Personally, I would rather know where I stand now ... patience is not a trait that I hold in abundance.

Monday, September 04, 2006

On Foo and Elitism

There has been quite a bit of buzz recently about whether Foo is too exclusive and elitist. After attending my first Foo this year, I have been amazed by the controversy that Foo generates. Yes, only around 200 people are invited; however, keeping the numbers small helps facilitate the self-organization of the conference and allows us to fit (barely) within the O'Reilly campus. The reality is that companies all over the world hold invite-only events where they gather people together to hold discussions on topics relevant to their business.

From Tom Coates,

Everyone who attends FOO feels honoured to be there, but let's be clear - invitation-only events happen all the time in the tech industry. There are more conferences and seminars happening in and around Silicon Valley than there are days in the year. And any individual or company is free to start their own event and invite whomsoever they choose. (Quote from Tom Coates on

Stowe Boyd makes a similar point:

But, candidly, I don't get it. Why can't we have closed meetings? Can't a company like O'Reilly invite a bunch of people to get together and talk about issues that are important to the company's future business? Does everything they do have to be open to the public, just because they are influential? (Quote from Stowe Boyd on /Message)

Foo just seems to generate more attention than other invite-only events. It may be a result of the breadth of the topics that O'Reilly is interested in discussing. O'Reilly Media is focused on cross-pollination between industries drawing on the idea that we can be smarter and more creative if we broaden our horizons ... maybe this explains the popularity of the Werewolf games at Foo. People from across a broad swath of technology industries are invited to Foo, and with the 200 person limit, this means that many really smart and insightful people are not invited. Foo is also an amazing event, and attendees rarely if ever leave Foo with a negative impression, which means that many people naturally want to be invited. I was lucky to be invited this year, and I hope to be invited to attend next year; however, I will not have any hard feelings if I am not invited. People should be able to accept Foo for what it is ... a great event where people share amazing ideas. Nothing more, nothing less.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Intel and Job Security

The press coverage and speculation about the Intel job cuts has been interesting. The Open Culture blog is my fun project (outside of work), so I rarely blog about my job, but I decided to make an exception in this case. According to ZDNet,

Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini is expected to announce a massive layoff as soon as Tuesday that could eliminate as many as 10,000 jobs.


The job cut is likely to weigh particularly heavily on marketing staff. Intel studies comparing its own staffing levels to competitors' concluded that the ratio of marketing personnel to salespeople was too large, the sources said. (Quote from ZDNet)

At this point, I hope that we get some clarity on Tuesday. Knowing about upcoming job cuts and / or re-orgs causes a lot of internal thrash, rumors, and too many people putting work on hold while they see how things shake out.

Personally, I am not really worried. Intel is a good company to work for, but there are plenty of other good companies to work for. The reality is that job security no longer exists in today's environment. The best thing we can do is continue to learn new skills and actively work to evolve our areas of expertise staying aligned with the constantly changing technological environment allowing us to remain valuable in our current jobs or as we move on to the next project. I like to think that I would quickly land on my feet if I happen to be one of the speculated 10,000 employees.

Social Software, Productivity, and Personal Connections

The blogosphere has been in a minor uproar today over the topic of social software. Ryan Carson says that he does not have time for social software, Nick Carr thinks that social software is inefficient, and many others have responded to these ideas.

I think that Ryan and Nick are missing the point about why people use social software. It is about connecting with people in a social environment, having fun, and maybe even wasting time in a way that helps energize and refresh our workaholic, play-starved brains. Most social software is not about achieving some goal or increasing productivity. Some people may get productivity gains out of using some social networking tools, but I would argue that this is a side effect more than a purpose.

Stowe Boyd has a lovely post talking about “The Real Heart of Social Software”:

The implicit premise behind this lynch mob's logic is that social software is supposed to make users more efficient: for example, personal productivity in sales or online research. And I guess, by more efficient, the authors are focused on how time-pressed they are (several mentioned that they are too busy to use such apps, the presumption being that if these apps made them more time-efficient, they would be attractive).

I reject this mindset out of hand. And I won't get into a hand-to-hand battle about which social tools do or do not warrant our attention, since this is discussion is about the socialness of these apps, not the functional jobs that they do, really.

Social apps are not about personal productivity. They are about social involvement, learning and enlarging perspectives through connection, and -- ultimately -- about the productivity of social groups as a whole.

An example may help. I am a strong believer in instant messaging (a social tool so engrained in our world that the various authors don't mention it in their dismissive lists of social apps they *do* use, although I bet they all use it). But instant messaging is a great example of social productivity. If you accept interruptions from your buddies, asking for advice or help, while you are busily working on the quarterly budget projections or this week's cold calls, then your personal productivity will go down. So, if you want to maximize your personal productivity, you should simply ignore all interruptions. Which works fine, on a short term basis, until you ask one of those buddies for insight or advice next week, and they ignore you in return. Time is a shared space, and social apps are increasingly the mechanism we use to share it. The whole notion that we could turn away, at this juncture, from the tools we use to mediate our sharing is ludicrous. This is no fad, this is a quantum shift. You might as well wish away rock-and-roll, teenage sex, and cell phones in public places. Get over it.

There is a constant social tension between personal and network productivity. And if your primary measure of success is personal productivity, you will naturally decrease your network involvement. But its simply the wrong metric for today, and tomorrow. (Quote from Stowe Boyd at /Message)

With social software like Digg, the people submitting stories are often looking to share knowledge about topics they are passionate about or trying to gain a reputation as a leader or alpha user within the community. These are not personal productivity goals.

Another example is MySpace. Young people do not use MySpace solely as a substitute for email and IM; they use it as an online mall or coffee shop where they can connect with friends, get to know friends of friends, leave inside jokes as public comments to demonstrate that they are in someone's social circle, organize events, and more. These are not personal productivity goals; they are simply good fun.