Brief IntroductionFriendfeed is a lifestreaming service. You create an account and link it to many other of your information sources eg. your blog, your twitter account, delicious, flickr, google reader etc. This is called your feed. Anytime you post a blog entry, bookmark on delicious, post a photo to flickr, or share a post on google reader, friendfeed’s watching you. It pulls it all together into one feed - your friendfeed. Friendfeed has a similar subscription model like twitter as well. You subscribe to your friend’s friendfeed. You now start getting their unified feeds getting streamed into your home page on friendfeed. So how does using friendfeed help ?
FriendlistsFriendfeed gives you three friendlists - Personal, Professional and Favorites in addition to the default Home list. You can create additional friendlists. eg. I create lists like interesting, geeks, social-media etc. etc. The people I would generally like to monitor, I put them in my Home list. In addition people whose tweets/feed items I don’t want to miss - I put them in the Favorites list. In addition, I classify people into other lists based on my preferred categories for following. Now I know that even when I am back to my computer after a long time away, I can still follow my favourites by clicking on the Favorites group. People I may choose to follow only infrequently, I can move to a list different from the home feed. Use it whichever way you want. A little experimenting and you’ll be on your way.
Twitter IntegrationIf you are a power twitter user, the first thing you would want to do is link your twitter account. This is bidirectional. All your tweets will appear in most cases near instantaneously on your feed as well. In your settings panel there’s a link called “Twitter Publishing Preferences”. Click on that and that will allow you to have the entries in your friendfeed getting posted to twitter as well. Make sure to tick the checkbox ”Link to source site instead of FriendFeed conversation (does not apply to comments)”. This will ensure that whatever gets tweeted to from friendfeed will not point back to the friendfeed entry but to the source entry instead. You can also selectively choose the feed items that you would like to push to twitter. Now anything you tweet is pulled into friendfeed and anything you post to friendfeed (and the entries it pulls in from other sources as well) are pushed into twitter. Sometimes all you’ve to do is to just click an hyperlink to tweet it (eg. Like). These are the things you no longer need to explicitly tweet (assuming you’ve set up the integration and the feed into twitter).
- Interesting Pages : Use the Friendfeed bookmarklet to mark the pages you like. They now find their way to twitter.
- Bookmarked Pages : Friendfeed will pull your entries from delicious and push them into twitter.
- Pages in your RSS feeds : Just share them on google reader and they will be soon tweeted to your friends.
- Photos : Just post the photos to flickr and your followers on twitter will know
- Interesting messages : Just click ‘Like’ against the same on Friendfeed. This is similar to retweeting
Not all my twitter friends have an account on friendfeedFor starters you can have friendfeed scan your twitter friends to check if they are on friendfeed and you can start following them immediately. There are some who may not be on friendfeed. There’s a solution there too. Add that person as an imaginary friend, and against that imaginary friend set up his various streams (eg. twitter, blog, delicious etc.). You’re ready to go. Note having a friendfeed account helps all your other friends too since they do not need to create and maintain an imaginary account for you. If you are not on their must follow list, they just might choose not to spend that effort.
But the twitter web api / tweetdeck gives me a way to scan replies/references to me on twitter and create search streamsFear not - that has a solution too. Run the search on twitter (for replies/references use ”@twitter_user_id” as the search string. You will see a RSS feed corresponding to that search. Now take that rss feed and plug it into another imaginary account as an RSS feed, and all the search results will now be visible on your home feed (or in the group feed wherever you’ve associated that imaginary user).
Other servicesWell, as an example I cited your blog, delicious account, and google reader account as information sources. Friendfeed supports tons of them. So the integration into twitter can be extended to (amongst many other possibilities)
- Tumbles into tumblr
- Stumbles on StumbleUpon
- Books you recommended on GoodReads or LibraryThing
- Pages you dugg on digg
- Posts you voted up on reddit
- Any other status messages you posted to facebook or brightkite
- Music on iLike or Last.fm
- Comments on backtype, disqus or intensedebate
- Videos you posted on vimeo or youtube
- Presentations you posted to slideshare
- Events you posted to Upcoming
- Any other RSS feed you may want to send out to the twitterverse
Thats quite a bit. What else ?You can click on the best of day / week / month to find entries made by your friends which were liked the most. And if you are into cyberstalking, you can really get a virtually realtime capability by creating an imaginary friend and then linking it to all the services you want to follow for him/her (I know I am being mean - but what the heck - friendfeed pulls in only the publicly available information)
I am now getting greedy. Sure there’s nothing moreHmm .. you can create groups and subscribe to them along with many other friends. Any specific focused topics you are likely to get into that you don’t want to bother a large part of your followers with ? Don’t send the messages to your default feed - send them to the group. Now these will only get delivered to the friendfeed users subscribed to the group and your twitter followers can have a easier time because you don’t suddenly flood their twitstream with (in their perception) arcane / irrelevant stuff. And have you ever irritated your facebook friends by streaming your tweets into facebook just because you didn’t want to enter status updates twice ? Well now you can stream facebook into friendfeed into twitter. So if you want the update to be in both twitter and facebook, just enter it in facebook, and if you would like to see it in twitter alone of the two, enter it in either friendfeed or twitter. So get cracking - create a friendfeed account. If you are not too sure who to subscribe to, I’m a nice person to follow. On both twitter and friendfeed, I maintain two personas. d7y (twitter, friendfeed) is the personal and free wheeling side of me, while dnene (twitter, friendfeed) focuses on programming, software design and architecture aspects. See you on friendfeed and twitter simultaneously.
The Indian Union Budget for 2009 was presented earlier today by the finance minister. The stock market wasn’t pleased. The sensex fell 869.65 points. Oh the horror of it - the twitterverse had everyone tweeting about the sensex fall. And there were quite a few tweets citing the sensex drop as the evidence of a poor budget. We live in the times of haste, and that includes hasty judgement. This substantially increases the value of information thats immediately available, compared to that which might be available a little later. And what is more realtime than a feed, which is supposed to reflect the collective rational reaction based on sound market principles. Call it a metric, a soundbyte, an available topic to expound upon - the sensex is the favourite metric of every budget day. And it is so rationally driven, that even as last year or so as the economy grew by about 6%, the Sensex slipped from 21000 to 8000. The fact is the sensex is correlated with the economy - but only in the long term. Thats at least over a 3 year, and more likely a minimum 5 year period. In the short term it does not demonstrate sound rational collectivisim - it reflects the collective hopes, fears, exhilaration and panic. And that gets even more acute as you start measuring it over a shorter interval. So the Sensex movement over a few hours today ended up being interpreted as a judgement on the budget by the hoi polloi brought up on instant news, feedback and measurable metrics - where immediate measurability takes far more precedence over accuracy of the target value being measured - the quality of the budget. So why did the sensex plumment ? Apparently lack of FDI relaxations and high fiscal deficit. And why so ? I would submit it is likely because of two reasons : a) Restructuring, privatisation, and increased FDI lead to a substantial growth in investment momentum driven by sentiment including increased FII driven liquidity. This is expected to lead to increase in stock prices over the next few days / weeks or months. That the budget is a reflection of a thought process, which is meant to enhance the economy over the next few years notwithstanding. Afterall isn’t the sensex likely to stay flat (or perhaps even dip), if hypothetically the government presented a plan, which everyone had a high confidence in, but would boost the economy big big time - but only after 5 years. Afterall the Sensex is driven by the technicals of the next one to three months and not by the fundamentals of the next 5 years. b) Its also likely that many would’ve taken a position in advance betting on the sensex shooting up even at the slightest industry friendly purring noises made by the government. But when that did not happen, these positions would need to be quickly unwound. And unwinding in haste takes no prisoners. In which case the sensex movement was being driven more by the bets being placed in the past rather than the strategies being rolled out for the future. Whichever way you look at it, the Sensex given its short term focus, especially based on technicals is a poor proxy for the quality of the budget. But the media, having found it a favourite metric to keep on quoting, year on year after each budget, have erased that distinction in the readers and viewers mind. Little surprise many were expressing horror at such a poor budget which made the sensex plummet. And was the budget poor ? Far from it, the budget was one of the most consistent continuations of the governments articulated approach. For those who chose to follow the Finance Minister’s statements, it would be obvious that it was consistent with the goals that were laid out. Get out of the 6+% growth slot and into the 9% slot. Thats the priority. And everything else could follow in due course. The massive increase in expenditure was exactly what the industry was demanding. This was essentially a stimulus budget. Which is why the industrialists were sombrely defending the 6.8% deficit as not inappropriate in the current circumstances, even as the brokers were expressing disappointment. Maybe this budget was not imaginative - but imagination is not a necessary attribute towards a successful budget. And this budget stayed true to the stated government approach of inclusive growth, which is what the government had promised the nation - something the markets had completely forgot about in its euphoria and anticipation. Basically the markets did not account for the possibility that the government might actually keep its promise. The sensex just reflects a few hours of sentiment - not the quality of the budget, especially not in the short term. So to those who panned the budget, I would suggest the following - take the time to read the budget, reflect on it. Think about whether it is consistent with what the government promised the electorate. And if you still believe the budget sucks - by all means pan it, just don’t use the Sensex as the means to do so. And where is the sensex likely to go from here ? it might shoot up tomorrow itself, or it may decide that the party is over and take the flat route. But if the companies find that the demand expansion driven by the stimulus is starting to influence the corporate growth and profitability substantially, the sensex is likely to be far above today morning levels by the time the next budget is presented in 8 months.
- Understanding of Audience segmentation : To me for any event of this size, the audience is the king. The organisation of the sessions needs to be conducted towards maximising the audience value. There existed segments of diversity in the audience here. Part of that diversity actually already showed itself up in a thread prior to the blogcamp on the post Why you should attend BlogCampPune - 2. Some bloggers were already less than keen to attend a blogcamp. In general, I have gathered that there seem to be three primary blogger profiles. The expressionists focus on blogs as a vehicle for their creativity and expression. The amateur enthusiast value drivers focus on treating a blog as a vehicle to provide a substantial value to their audience and often end up classifying themselves into specific niches to be able to maximise that value. Finally there are those who treat blogs as a vehicle of commerce. There was no apparent attention to any of this segmentation. And as any person especially with a marketing background will tell you - segmentation is critical, to be able to provide maximum value. I have to be speculating here, but I felt this camp could’ve been run better if this segmentation had been addressed. Have global discussions spanning all, followed by birds of feather separation. Separate threads running for each segment of the audience. It would still not provide the maximum potential value for each audience member, but certainly would at least contribute to optimisation. Due to lack of concrete data, I am going to proceed on an uninformed conclusion. That the audience (there were 125+ of them) was predominantly non commercial in focus and was there to learn how to make their blog content superior. Blog marketing, page views, SEO was not at the top of their priorities. And yet the first two talks in the primary room devoted extensive attention and time to these topics. I have no issue with the topics, but given my uninformed conclusion, I just thought that it was a poor fit for the large audience.
- Logistics and Infrastructure : While SICSR is a great patron of local events, one has to understand that its architecture is not particularly suited for Open Space based events. Two classrooms - one large and one small with small exit points don’t allow for easy movement of people. So attempting to conduct a set of sessions based on Open Space Technology (something I shall question later) in that architecture was definitely something to ponder upon. This was not an insignificant issue. It was an important issue which led to a substantial dilution of one set of sessions and a suboptimisation of the net result whichever way one looked at it. Instead this very architecture could’ve been leveraged by focusing on conducting separate session threads, each collectively addressing a different audience segment. An opportunity that was missed. There was also another way to segment in this case. The projector in the second room did not work with many laptops due to a faulty cable. One could’ve classified the presentations as “projected” and “non projected” thus helping reduce the substantial downtime in booting up each individual talk. But that was not to be either.
- Time Management : A fair amount of time was spent upfront in every blogger introducing himself at some length. I think thats a great idea for a group of say 25 bloggers. But in a group of 125+ people the rule no. 3 in the Barcamp rules should’ve gotten applied - only 3 word intros. There was even a amusing situation I saw of one presentation extending itself with no intervention from the unorganisers, and finally one of the audience actually started playing the ringtone from his mobile just to hurry up the closure. If that was an isolated session it wouldn’t have been important. But combined with the fact that there was no segmentation based on audience interest, along with the fact that simultaneous presentations were scheduled with parallel time slots, and one of the two rooms started to be behind schedule, meant people’s planned juggling between the rooms also went for a toss. I for example had to leave before Navin’s presentation ended and had to miss Vishal and Sandy’s presentations, as the other room was apparently on schedule and I had to reach there well in time to prepare for my presentation and then struggle with the faulty cable for a long time. I don’t know if that disruption happened for others or not.
- The lack of focused threads (BOF) meant that I ended up attending the commercial / success focused presentations and missing the content or blogging experience focused presentations eg Sandy’s.
- I felt a strong focus on marketing, pageviews, SEO etc. in Ankesh, Ankur and Jim Karter’s presentation - focus I thought was perhaps not why a majority of the audience had come there. I heard Navin articulate reader value and content. (I missed Meeta’s presentation entirely and Aditto’s partially). But what came across as the overriding impression was that there was a big imbalance between, the % speakers focused on blog success through tactics (SEO, Marketing) and those on content and readers vis. a vis. the same percentage spread from an audience interest perspective. I must admit that I enjoyed Jim’s presentation thoroughly as a manager and not as a blogger - at the clean and incisive way of approaching blogging as a commercial enterprise. However this was also the strongest element in my disappointment - that blogging is being viewed at so very commercially. I have sufficient commercial considerations in my daily activities. It was just completely disappointing to see bloggers discuss pageviews, clicks and SEO as the goal and content as the vehicle to reach the goal, with value to readers being just the necessary component for the ecosystem. Raised in me exactly the same cynicism that I have such an abundance of, when I come across managers discuss a P&L as the goal, with the commercial offerings as a vehicle to reach the goal, and customers being a necessary participant in the ecosystem. I shall leave the reader to decide where the cart is and where the horse lies.
- The changing rules had me confused. I first prepared for a half an hour presentation, then changed it due to an apparent statement in the media that no presentation would be allowed to go beyond 10 minutes only to find again that the time slots were 30 minutes. Add to that the necessity of having to leave an interesting presentation and struggle with the setup for some time. (I really detest ever keeping an audience waiting for more than a minute - seems like I ended up keeping them waiting for ages). I am not quite sure what exactly the rules were as far as the presentation time slots was concerned.
Proponents[who?] claim that OST suits groups of any size; groups ranging from five to several thousand participants have used it. According to its proponents[who?], it works best under the following conditions: 1. the topic of the meeting involves a real business issue (however one defines “business”) 2. the participants really care about that issue 3. the issue has so much complexity that no single person or small group can fully understand it 4. the issue requires highly diverse skills and people for a successful resolution 5. the participants have genuine passion about the issue; which can often include conflict (compare criterion 2) 6. the issue requires immediate action (a “decision time of yesterday”)
FooCamps and BarCamps are based on a simplified variation of Open Space Technology (OST), leaving out some key elements like the 4 principles and the Law of the Two Feet but maintaining the self-organizing character of OST.Now I am confused - are the 4 principles and the law of 2 feet applicable to bar camps ? Apparently those are the Laws we should’ve remembered while conducting the self analysis. And theres one more set of rules for a Barcamp. This includes the 3 word introduction as one of the rules. It also states “Presentations will go on as long as they have to or until they run into another presentation slot.” I would interpret that as stating that presentations should get terminated once a time slot is over. And while a time slot is flexible, that it varies between 10 minutes and 30 minutes is inconveniencing to say the least. So exactly what are the rules and the Law here ? I’m confused. And with regards to moving around etc. may I suggest the architecture of the location simply wasn’t the most conducive. If I may put forth the thought that under a classroom situation, it might just be better to move around the speakers and their time slots to suit the audience rather than expecting the audience to move around. So next time we have a bar/blog camp, am I likely to refrain from attending it ? Far from it, I would like to see if I can contribute positively. But not as an unorganiser. As an organiser. There are some situations and contexts where the highly unstructured plays work. And there are some where they don’t. The important thing is to not focus on the structure of the event - focus on the value to the attendees. 125 people for 6 hours is 750 person hours of attention. Its important to use it most effectively. Suggestion Next time we hold a barcamp / blogcamp, lets take cognisance of at least two factors. If it is a classroom structure lets adapt to it. And if the audience is diverse, lets work to figure out how it can be segmented and Birds of a Feather colocated. And finally lets understand the audience a bit better and encourage content which satisfies their needs and tickles their imagination in appropriately proportional terms. And lets have rules. We need rules. But if the audience isn’t satisfied, lets screw the rules and service the audience. And if you are wondering where audience entered the barcamp vocabulary - when you have 100+ attendees and about 10 speakers, it means you have a 90+ audience at the minimum. Not what barcamps were perhaps designed for.
- Get a friendfeed account if you don’t have one at http://friendfeed.com. If you use a separate liveblogging account for twitter, may I suggest you create a separate friendfeed account too ?
- Login to friendfeed and goto http://friendfeed.com/pune-blogcamp-2-liveblog
- Now do you see the Subscribe link in a blue bar at the top left just below the pune blogcamp icon ? Click it to subscribe. (If you see Unsubscribe it means you’re already subscribed - don’t click that)
- If you’re going to stream to twitter too, do you see the checkbox just below the text area between “Cc:” and “Twitter” ? Select it. It will pop up a new window for OAuth (ie. to set up the authorisation for your friendfeed posts to get automatically tweeted to your twitter account). Enter your twitter login credentials (userid / password) here and click allow.
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