I've been watching from afar the outcry over the shutting down of Google Reader. Previously a heavy gReader user, I've gradually moved away from the service, the move coinciding very much with the emergence of Twitter as an effective content curation platform. Nowadays, when I find an interesting post / blog, I usually try to find the author's Twitter account and follow it. This way I not only get updates on new blog posts in realtime, I also get additional content via regular tweets that might be of interest.
The asymmetric Twitter following model really supports this behavior - for a long time I used Twitter almost exclusively as a content curation service. While my Google Reader account was getting out of hand with the guilt inducing +1000 unread items, with Twitter I never felt pressured to chase "Inbox zero" on my read count. I might miss some good content, but in most cases if it's interesting enough it will float up again and I'll catch it anyway.
With the deprecation announcement of Google Reader, many new RSS subscription services popped up / gained popularity, and I wonder whether they're catering to an inferior content publication approach. If you look at the Google Trends chart Andrew Chen put in a recent post, the downwards trajectory correlates well to the launch of Twitter (Mar. 2006).
My 2 main sources now for new + interesting content are Twitter and HackerNews. HackerNews pushes to the top the really popular items (so it's basically my actual "news" source), while with Twitter I can personalize my stream to suite my interests and preferences by managing the people I follow. I get introduced to new content via RTs and mentions, so my content stream is always expanding.
While I think RSS failed mostly on marketing and usage penetration for the average user, I also think it had problems scaling as your subscription inventory grew. I (and probably most people) don't have time to read everything interesting that crosses our way, and in that sense Twitter has become the content subscription service I actually needed.
As you probably heard, Twitter recently tightened the noose around API developers with new limits and restrictions. Twitter is possibly the biggest public API provider today, with 13 billion API calls a day in 2011. This makes sense if you're Twitter, and are trying to increase your revenue from ad sales - you need people on your site, consuming those ads, not using API apps to consume their feed indirectly. At the same time, they reduce their biggest cost - supporting their API infrastructure.
But if I were Twitter, I'd go about it a different way - why put hard limits when you can just add tax instead? charge a small amount for every API request over the limit (or sell bulk packages) - suddenly you have a major revenue stream, and API developers still get a chance to scale using your API.
Soft cap vs. Hard cap
If you're into sports, this is somewhat similar to the difference between the salary cap system implemented in the NFL vs. the one implemented in the NBA. The NFL has a hard cap, which means teams have to stay under a specific total number for player salaries at all times. The NBA on the other hand, has a soft cap, which allows teams to exceed the cap number by paying increasingly larger tax for every dollar spent over the cap.
Both of those cap system exist as an attempt to create competitive parity in those leagues, by preventing teams from bigger markets outspending teams from smaller markets. Each has its own merits in the context of sports competitiveness, but in Twitter's case there is no reason for a hard cap at all. What does Twitter gain by putting a hard limit on API usage?
Continue reading Suggestion to Twitter: Here’s how you monetize without ruining your ecosystem
I like to leave comments on articles and blog posts I find interesting, and interact with the author. However, if the only option to leave a comment is through Facebook comments, I probably won't use it for the following reasons:
- My professional persona is separate from my personal persona. I don't want my friends and family reading my comments on "How To Make A Two-Sided Business, One-Sided". It's not relevant for them, and I'd like to keep my feed clean of those messages.
- I don't want people I interact with for business / professional reasons to view or connect to my Facebook profile. I have a linkedIn profile for those purposes.
- I have no idea if the author is notified when I post using Facebook comments. One of the main reasons I comment on an article is to start a conversation with the author on the subject. If I can't tell if he's even notified, I probably won't bother.
I understand why people think adding Facebook comments will help drive traffic to their site. Perhaps in some contexts it makes sense, but if you were wondering why no one is commenting on your articles, consider if better engaging your readers is more important to you than polluting their social feed. Also - visitors might not even have a Facebook account, or they are not logged-in at the moment. Don't make this a barrier for engagement.
If people do feel they want to share your article on Facebook, use social sharing buttons, like the ones you see on this blog. Don't force commenting and sharing as a bundle package to readers.
After reading and responding to the comments below, I understand it was not completely clear what my stance is. First, I'd like to make it clear I have nothing against Facebook, or its comment widget. I was questioning the appropriateness of having the comment widget on sites / blogs where I read for professional reasons, and would like to keep it separate from my personal Facebook profile.
Keep it separate doesn't mean just that my friends on Facebook will read it, but also whether other readers of the blog will have access to my Facebook profile, which I'd rather avoid.
In addition, I was writing the post from the viewpoint of a site visitor who's been frustrated by having no recourse other than using Facebook comments - not from the viewpoint of the publisher. Content publishers have their own objectives which might not align with mine, and it might be perfectly fine with them that I don't leave a comment on their site. There's nothing wrong with that.
To sum it up - if you care about people who want a separation between their Facebook profiles and their professional reading, you should think twice about using Facebook comments in your site.
Quora, a hot Q&A startup has been gaining traction at an astounding rate for a while now. Though not a frequent user, I was impressed by the many candid answers from some of the biggest names in our industry (IT). A lot of inside information and perspective can be found there, and it's a credit to their team for getting those players on board. Continue reading My take on Quora vs. Stackoverflow, or substance vs. social
It's 2010. Despite rumors to the contrary, the web is not dead. In fact, it is thriving more than ever (unless bandwidth consumption is your main metric). Yet, it is standing at a crossroads.
Continue reading For how long will Microsoft hold back the web?