Andrew Examines Identity Online, Unceasingly

So, you’re on the web (or you wouldn’t be reading this) and you need to identify yourself to various web services and to various web readers, many of whom are real human beings. I was enthusiastic about OpenID a few years ago. But OpenID resonated with only a small and rather specialized subset of people.

Most people want to use an online identity they already have, or are already considering having, rather than forging a new “one identify to rule them all”. That cuts the field down rather drastically.

Maybe you want an identity that is lightweight, in the sense that it doesn’t carry the burden of private information. That’s an argument against Facebook, which seems to want to be your identity and to gather somewhat private stuff about you.

Fred Wilson argues that the lightweight criterion suggest Twitter as identity provider.

Twitter is default public and everyone knows that’s what it is. Your Twitter identity is the lightest weight, most public, and therefore the best identity on the web.

I’m inclined to agree with Fred. How about you?

Content and Connection Revisited, Again

Mashable Ben’s recent op-ed on Facebook, Twitter and The Two Branches of Social Media prompted me to ask two of my favorite questions. How does this fit in with what I’ve posted? How does WordPress fit in?

Ben’s two branches are social networks and information networks. They correspond respectively to connection and content. The correspondence isn’t exact: for example, I see connection and content as two elements of that mix in different ways in different social media tools, rather than as separate branches. I agree with Ben that the distinction between social networks (which emphasize connection) and information networks (which emphasize content) illustrates a fundamental difference between Facebook and Twitter.

WordPress is more about content than about connection in that it’s more for building information networks than for building social networks. But of course, WordPress is a platform on which you can build pretty much what you want, and social networking has already been built on top of it, in the form of BuddyPress.

Hey, You, Get Off of My Platform

That’s the message that Apple recently delivered to Adobe, and the message that Twitter might seem to be delivering to application developers.

Apple is the bigger firm, the bigger story, and is playing for bigger stakes. How big? I don’t think that Erik at TechCrunch exaggerated a couple of days ago when he put it like this.

I wonder whether he [Steve Jobs] is repeating the very same mistakes which relegated Macs to a niche market. Or did he learn from those mistakes so that Apple comes out on top this time?

Jobs is once again pitting Apple’s complete product design mastery against the rest of the industry, except this time he thinks he will prevail. Whether it is his repeated moves to keep Adobe’s Flash off the iPhone or his growing rift with Google over Android, Jobs is making the iPhone and iPad a relatively closed system that Apple can control.

While Apple is denying Adobe entry into iLand, Twitter is welcoming Tweetie into its fold. Twitter acquired Atebits, maker of iPhone Twitter client Tweetie. Matthew Ingram at GigaOm summed up and linked out well, indicating the range of opinion as to what the Twitter ecosystem will be in future.

I like many others, thought that something was up when I read Fred Wilson’s post about the Twitter platform’s inflection point.

Much of the early work on the Twitter Platform has been filling holes in the Twitter product… Mobile clients come to mind. Photo sharing services come to mind. URL shorteners come to mind. Search comes to mind. Twitter really should have had all of that when it launched or it should have built those services right into the Twitter experience.

But… What are the products and services that create something entirely new on top of Twitter?

I’m not sure I agree that Twitter should have had all of that when it launched. That would have held up the launch, and discouraged developers from filling the holes. Now there are some discouraged developers of Twitter iPhone clients who now have to compete with the official and free Twitter for iPhone. And there are others Twitter developers wondering if a similar fate will overtake them.

Although these two stories (Apple/Adobe, Twitter/Tweetie) are currently atop the Techmeme news site, the tension between firms that own platforms and firms that develop for those platforms is nothing new. Here’s a quote from Twitter founder Ev Williams, from a recent NY Times Bits piece, that could with just a word or two changed be about pretty much any platform.

There are tons of opportunities created by the Twitter platform, and things that people will probably be disappointed if they invest in… It’s a question of what should be left up to the ecosystem and what should be created on the platform.

So, if you invested in an iPhone app for the Twitter platform, would you be disappointed right now? Not if you were Loren of Atebits. While Twitter may have just dashed or dented the hopes of some developers, it has made one rather better off.

In some ways, that will encourage Twitter app development: will my app be the one acquired for that niche/hole in the product? That’s a different question from: will my app do reasonably well in an ecosystem with a large and diverse population of apps? But it’s still an interesting question. I’d say it’s a more interesting question than: what barriers and hoops will Apple put in my way next?

50 Million Tweets and Nothing On

50 millions tweets a day? It has indeed come to this, as Mashable Ben and many other sources report. The statistic reminds me, as I’m sure it reminds many others, of the Bruce Springsteen song “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).”

But of course, there are things on, on TV, and even on Twitter. It’s just that I can get the content I value through other channels.

When it comes to social media, I can subscribe to your blog. When it comes to TV or movies, I can catch you on Netflix, or… Perhaps I’m stuck in the middle, liking old-school social media such as blogs and feeds, and new media channels for movies and TV, such as Youtube and Netflix.

I am impressed with 50 million tweets as quantity. I’m still waiting to be impressed by Twitter when it comes to quality. Downtime Lowdown

This blog, like millions of others, is hosted at I’ve been very happy with the service.

I’m still happy with it, despite today’s downtime. I have to applaud Matt’s downtime summary. He didn’t attempt to downplay the downtime. He quantified it, to the tune of 5.5 million lost pageviews (not all of which are mine, I must admit).

I had to smile when I first saw the news about the downtime. It was a Mashable post about “tweets pouring in.” That just reinforced to me how much more robust is than Twitter, which I still think functions best as the home for the fail whale.

Cliqset Clips and Evernote Notes

Social memory integration sounds pretty impressive. But what does it mean? Leena Rao at TechCrunch uses the term to describe the recently-announced integration between Cliqset and Evernote.

Leena’s post made me get round to starting a Cliqset account and linking it to some of my web activity (e.g., this blog, Evernote, Flickr). Cliqset shows me the activity streams of those I follow.

The integration with Evernote allows me easily to make a note of an interesting item from one of those streams. I get a clipping of that item in the form of a note in my default Evernote notebook.

I am rather underwhelmed by this, even with my interest in Evernote, and despite the enthusiastic posts at TechCrunch, at the Evernote blog, and elsewhere.
Some of the reasons I’m unimpressed are minor (if I wanted to Cliq-clip to Evernote, I’d like to be able to specify the folder into which the clippings should go) or otherwise unimportant (I’m feeling grumpy today).

But there is a bigger reason: Twitter, the huge service with the little tweets. Many Cliqset streams consist mainly of tweets. Few tweets are clip-worthy (with very rare exceptions such as CEO resignation haiku). Tweets that make me want to clip are usually pointers to real content, rather than worthy content in their own right.

I see this as a problem, not just for “CliqNote,” but for Cliqset more generally. Many people use Twitter as the center of their social media universe: to capture their own activity streams, and to follow the streams of others. I wish it wasn’t so (for reasons that belong in a separate post), but I think it is – and that doesn’t leave much room for services like Cliqset.

The most prominent Cliqset-like service is FriendFeed. Indeed, Cliqset “aims to be a less clunky version of FriendFeed” (that’s Leena quoting Darren Bounds, president of Cliqset). Perhaps it too will be acquired, then neglected.

HootSuite Not Flying Right For Me Yet

HootSuite hoots that it is the professional Twitter client. It’s spreading its wings to allow the management, not only of multiple Twitter profiles, but also of profiles for multiple social media tools. Seeing that it has added to its list of such tools, I decided to give HootSuite a try.

So I got myself a HootSuite account, gave my Twitter name and password, and up popped my profile photo. I gave my name and password, and up popped someone else’s photo. I decided that if HootSuite gets me mixed up with someone else, then it might not be ready to have the password to this blog. After a further look at HootSuite, I found that it doesn’t have an Android app (although it does have an iPhone app).

I may use HootSuite as a Twitter client for a while. I may take a closer look at it as a social media dashboard when and if it comes out with an Android app.

Credit: photo of baby owl by Brian Scott.

Journalist, Curator: not real-time jobs

Twitter Lists: Journalism Becomes a Real-Time Job is the title of a very recent post by Pete Cashmore, Mr Mashable himself. My real-time reaction to it was that real journalism is not a real-time job, since it requires fact-checking – and maybe even thought.

Perhaps I was reacting to the post title, when I should have been reading the post itself. After all, the post title is about one-third of the maximum length of a tweet. The post is pretty much a pointer to Pete’s article, in which he discusses “a new breed of editor: the real-time Web curator.”

Curator: that’s a word I see more and more these days. It has scholarly, thoughtful connotations. I’m not sure it fits well with real-time.