Hit the tweetup tomorrow

If you’re in the Harrisburg area and you’re on Twitter, you should definitely think about going to the Tweetup tomorrow.

Where? Appalachian Brewing Company. When? 7pm.

It’s a bit funny that I’m writing about this, since I’m probably not going to make it myself, but if you haven’t been to one or you just didn’t know about it before, here are a few reasons for you:

  • The people are awesome
  • There’s beer
  • Great food
  • Lots of diverse topics of discussion

The last one especially. You could be talking about Harrisburg politics one minute, then suddenly, you’re on to knitting. I don’t knit myself but, if I did, I’d be right at home.

You’ll also experience some tech talk, from time to time. Most of the people at the Tweetup are tech savvy. They’re on Twitter, after all. You’ll probably find them on a load of other social networks, too.

I guess you could say that, at times, it’s kind of like another Social Media Club, except the Tweetup crowd cared about that kind of thing longer than six months ago.

This is the part where I embed a map to Appalachian Brewing Company so you don’t get lost. Remember, tomorrow, 7pm. Good day.

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The next project

While I often find myself with plenty to do, I occasionally get the itch to have another project going on the side. When I’m burned out from the day job or am suffering some kind of creative block, I like to work on my side project to clear my mind and re-energize.

Unfortunately, up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t have a side project. Then something hit me.

I won’t go into too much detail, but I’ll give you a few hints. It’ll be web-based, community-focused (Harrisburg, PA area, not nationwide) and will be more or less an experimental venture. I’m hoping to sneak up on one particular, slow-to-adapt sleeping giant. ;)

If you’re interested in being a part of this, feel free to shoot me an email. I don’t quite have everything all figured out yet–maybe that’s where you come in.

Facebook’s acquisition of Drop.io: file-sharing on the way?

In case you missed it back on Friday, Facebook has snatched up file-sharing service Drop.io and its creator, Sam Lessin. Drop.io is a service that, before the acquisition, allowed you to quickly create an online file “drop” that could be used to store and share files online. Now that the purchase is public, Drop.io has shut down the ability to create new drops.

As a student, I used Drop.io quite often to store research papers online so that I could access them anywhere on campus. It beat carrying a thumb drive around (one less thing to lose). Now that Facebook has nabbed Lessin and Drop.io’s technology, I have to assume that file-sharing features will be making their way into Facebook. Students, work colleagues and members of community organizations could use these features to collaborate on projects and store useful and important documents.

And, as I’m sure Facebook is well aware, these features will have you logging into its site even more than you already are.

From where I’m sitting, it looks like a very smart pickup. If Facebook is looking at getting into the file-sharing/online collaboration game, its user base of 500+ million is a huge advantage against already-established services. Drop.io was a great service and, while I’m sad to see it go, I’m interested in seeing what Facebook does with the tech and what Lessin ends up doing as a new member of the team.

5 of my favorite social media white papers and ebooks

One of my favorite things to do (no joke) is to read a new white paper or ebook when it’s published. Sure, there are certain best practices out there when it comes to social media, but nothing has been handed down on a stone tablet yet. When companies make the leap into the social world and experiment, or when they take a crack at laying out some guidelines for internal use, the results are usually worth reading.

Here are 5 of my favorites.

You now have some weekend reading material. See you Monday.

It’s the right thing to do

Earlier today, David Meerman Scott sat on a panel called “Business Value of Social Media” (along with Chris Brogan of New Marketing Labs and Charlene Li of Altimeter). David offered his take on social media R.O.I. and, in my opinion, nailed it.

In an emerging field, there’s always lots of room for debate and I rarely find that I agree with someone’s take 100%. But, in this one instance, I do.

David compared a company’s social media efforts to building a nice corporate campus or giving your salespeople BlackBerries so they can be productive on the go. Do companies track the R.O.I. of having beautiful landscaping in front of the office building? he asked. Probably not. He said companies do this because “It’s the right thing to do.”

It’s a cost of doing business. It’s all about the first impression. If someone walks into your lobby and you have a spiffy wall sign, a few plants and matching furniture, they’ll likely believe that you’re running a professional operation. Are you tracking the return on investment for that? Doubtful. It’s just something you have to do.

Let it stew for a while.

I’d own a Kindle today if…

…it had Google Reader.  Why not just a feed reader?  I’ll explain.

If I had to estimate, I’d say that about two-thirds of the reading I do takes place inside Google Reader.  And not just my own subscriptions, but also the content shared by others.  I get a lot of value from those shared posts because, let’s face it – I don’t have time to sift through thousands of blog posts a day.  This is why a plain feed reader just wouldn’t do.  Sure, I’d be able to subscribe to and read blogs, but I’d be missing all the shared content and the sense of community I get inside Google Reader.

The Kindle isn’t built for that, at least not yet.  Is it great with books?  Absolutely.  But the blog reading situation needs to be vastly improved for me to even consider buying one and, unless that happens before April 3, I’ll be purchasing a different product instead.

The old Abuzz

Before the Abuzz iPhone app, there was another Abuzz – a community site run by The New York Times.  You can check out a snapshot of the old site here, courtesy of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

Two things come to mind:

  1. I will never get to own the Abuzz domain – The New York Times still has it on lockdown until 2012 and I doubt they’ll be surrendering it after that.
  2. How ahead of its time was this site?

Launched in 1999, the NYT Abuzz site was “social networking” before sites like Myspace and Facebook took center stage.  There was a question/answer format (similar to Yahoo! Answers or Mahalo Answers), a discussion section (which isn’t that original – forums and USENET were around for years) and section for publishing commentary, such as book reviews, reactions to news stories, and so on.

On top of that, the site attempted what many sites are still trying to do today – filter information and deliver only what it thinks will be relevant to you.  Pretty amazing stuff.

As you can see here, the site shut down on September 2, 2004, citing limited resources.  The fact that the NYT has held on to the domain name long afterwards means they think the domain is a valuable asset (I agree).  Do they have plans to utilize it in the future?  Who knows.  If not, and if anyone at the Times is reading this, I’ll gladly take it off your hands. ;)

Back to the drawing board

I launched Abuzz last Thursday and heard lots of nice things from those who downloaded it.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one of you. :)  The app was born out of my own need for it.  I actually went into the App Store one day looking for something like it and was astonished that it didn’t exist.  So I got to work – mapping out the app and its various features.  I brought someone in to put it together and, in three months, I had a finished product.

But I failed to get Abuzz significant coverage, and that is my fault and my fault alone.

Other than Louis Gray’s great write-up, I couldn’t get a single other blog to run with it.  That tells me more than anything that the app isn’t as polished as it should be.  I had considered pushing out incremental updates, adding features every few weeks, but it’s clear to me now that those would only be bandages on a much bigger wound.  So the next iteration of Abuzz to see the light of day will be 2.0 (it will, of course, be released as an update, not as a separate app – I’m not pulling any Tweetie stuff, here).

I’ve listened to feedback and had a lot of great ideas come my way.  The interface will get an enormous facelift.  The user experience will be vastly improved.  The app will stand on its own both as a social media search tool and as a Twitter client.  I don’t want to let too much slip, but I’ll say this – I’m going to make sure the app is everything it should be.

Be sure to follow @abuzzapp for updates.

Prediction results for 2009, not good

This post takes a look back at my 5 ballsy social media predictions for 2009 post, written on December 20, 2008.

Needless to say, there will not be a predictions post written for 2010.  I am clearly not Desmond Hume (come on, LOST nerds).

  1. Twitter will be bought. Nope.  They did, however, get a huge boost from Oprah.  Oh yeah, they also negotiated a few search deals and started *gasp* making some money. (0 for 1)
  2. Plurk will disappear. Ahh, Plurk – the little microblogging service that should have quit a long time ago.  Instead, they persist.  I logged into the site for the first time in a year only to find that it looks exactly the same.  And by the same, I mean creepy. (0 for 2)
  3. Louis Gray will surpass Robert Scoble in blog traffic. I thought this one was a slam dunk.  Robert thought it could happen.  Where did it all go wrong?  The two were separated by as few as 16,110 uniques in May 2009.  But in June 2009, Building 43 was launched and Robert blogged a bit more often.  When FriendFeed sold to Facebook in August, it was game over.  Scoble returned to his blog fortress and made me wrong yet again.  (0 for 3)
  4. Pandora will all but kill Last.FM. Bzzzzt, incorrect.  Last.FM lives on due to the fact that, well, it works outside the United States.  Pandora does not.  In my own life, Slacker Radio has taken the lead – I suggest you give it a try.  And if you haven’t Groovesharked yet, please do it right now. (0 for 4)
  5. The labels will introduce a mixtape service. Can you say “oh-for-five”?  I could have cheated right here and counted Apple’s “compile a bunch of songs in a mix and buy them for a friend” feature as a mixtape service but the labels had little to do with that.  (0 for 5, in case you forgot)

Do you have the results of your own predictions?  I’d love to see them.  You could not have done worse than me. ;)

What’s Abuzz?

Well, it’s an iPhone app. :)

Abuzz lets you search Twitter, the blogosphere, the forumsphere (or whatever it’s called) and Digg.  It lets you organize your keyword searches into campaigns so that you can keep your related searches together.  You can search all the supported services at once or customize your search to include results from just one or two.Abuzz

What’s really cool about Abuzz is the built-in Twitter client.  It’s lightweight (just like the rest of the app) but gives you everything you need – you can tweet out, send replies, send direct messages, view profiles, follow/unfollow and so on.  You can interact with the tweets in your own timeline and your searches, which frees you from having to open another app if you want to take action on a tweet you’ve found in a search.

Let’s say you work for Apple and want to set up searches for the iPhone and Macbook.  You could open the Abuzz app, create a new campaign called “Apple” and add keyword searches for “iPhone” and “Macbook”.  It’s that easy.  You won’t waste a lot of time navigating through a dedicated Twitter app to set up searches or browsing through Safari trying to search blogs, forums and Digg.  Abuzz is social media search, plain and simple.

So where’s Abuzz?  We’re squashing our last round of bugs at the moment and we’ll probably have an App Store-ready app in three or four days. Keep your eyes peeled two or three weeks into January!  And if you have some search services you’d like to see available inside Abuzz, let me know!  Shoot an email to features@abuzzapp.com.