Ethics and Privacy in the Digital Age [en]

[fr] Même si tout le contenu numérique que nous produisons court le risque de se retrouver un jour sur l'internet public, cela ne veut pas dire pour autant qu'il est acceptable de rendre public des informations qui ne le sont pas.

En l'occurrence, les réseaux sociaux comme Facebook permettent uniquement aux amis ou contacts d'un utilisateur d'avoir accès à leur profil. On n'y pense souvent pas, mais de plus en plus, ce qu'on peut voir sur le web dépend de qui nous sommes, et des relations (enregistrées) que l'on entretient avec d'autres utilisateurs.

Il convient donc d'être vigilant, sous peine de commettre des erreurs diplomatiques. Un ami à moi a ainsi rendu public aux 10'000 lecteurs d'IBcom une partie de mon profil Facebook, en illustration d'un article qu'il a écrit. Pas de gros désastre heureusement, mais s'il m'avait demandé, j'aurais tout de même fait un peu le ménage avant qu'il fasse sa saisie d'écran.

Over the last year, I’ve repeatedly asked for finer privacy control in the social tools I’m using (see here, here, here, here and here).

To summarize, tools need to let users add structure to their social networks, which in turn will allow privacy management of data made available in or through the tool: “let people I tagged X see everything, let people I tagged Y see this and that, and let people I tagged Z see everything apart from that.”

If you think of how relationships and social networks function offline, this makes perfect sense: some people are part of your friends circle, some people are close friends, some people are co-workers, some people are acquaintances, others are business contacts, judo pals, people you meet up with to play cards. And you don’t say the same things about yourself to all those people.

Your “social network” is not homogeneous. It’s a collection of little sub-communities (which can be as small as one person), with fuzzy edges, overlapping, ever-changing. Why on earth an online social network should place all the people I’m connected to on one level (or even two, or three levels) is beyond me.

Were getting there (but way too slowly). Pownce and Viddler allow you to tag your contacts and use those tags to control privacy (though with interface issues). Facebook, Flickr, and probably various others don’t allow you to tag your contacts, but do provide a few (insufficient) levels of privacy. Twitter lets you choose if you want to protect your updates.

What I’m getting to is that in today’s web of social tools, what you get to see is more and more personalized. And the information you can access about other people is often the result of your relationship to those people, and what they decided to give you access to. Just like in offline relationships. This means that you, as the person with access to the data, have an ethical responsibility towards the person who made some of his/her personal information available to you.

Because you have access to it, does that mean you have the right to publish it in a more public space? Well, I’d say the answer is most obviously “no”. By doing that, you’re betraying the trust of the person who made the data available to you.

Now, of course, I’m the first to say that you cannot control digital stuff you create and should be aware that you run the risk of seeing your private digital data ending up on the public internet at some point. “Even if it’s in a private setting, anybody can copy it and make it public.” Sure. But that doesn’t mean it’s right to do so.

So, why am I writing this? Somebody just brought to my attention that IB com published an article about Facebook in their latest issue. And to illustrate that article, a screenshot of my Facebook profile was used. The article was written by a friend of mine (“friendly-business-acquaintance” friend), who obviously had access to my “friends only” Facebook profile.

He didn’t ask me if it was OK to publish my Facebook profile in print. If he had, I might have said “no”, but I might also have simply sanitized my profile so that he could take a screenshot I would have felt comfortable showing to the public.

He didn’t realize that by publishing my Facebook profile or showing it to others outside my friends’ circle, he is making information I would like to keep somewhat private available to people I would not necessarily choose to give it to. In this case, it’s not disastrous, because I am pretty conservative about what I put online, even on my Facebook profile (and I’m more transparent then most, so there aren’t many things I keep private). But there are at times things there I would rather keep for people I know — not the 10’000 readers of IBcom.

Just like most bloggers do not consider everything said in a conversation over a glass of beer “fair game” for blogging (when in doubt, ask, unless you’re ready to jeopardize your relationships over this kind of stuff), not everything you access in social networks is fair game for publication.

As social networks get smarter about privacy, I think we’re going to bump into this kind of problem more. For the moment, it’s up to each of us to be vigilant about what we take of others’ content and make available elsewhere. And maybe we need tools that can help us keep track of privacy settings better, and warn us when we’re about to make such a “faux pas”.

Quechup = spammeurs [fr]

[en] If you get invitations to join Quechup, don't. They will spam your whole address book without asking you for permission.

Si, comme moi, vous recevez dans votre boîte trois ou quatre invitations provenant de personnes que vous connaissez (bien ou moins bien) à rejoindre le réseau social Quechup, n’y touchez pas! ils spammeront tous les contacts de votre carnet d’adresse sans vous demander votre avis!

Voici ce qui se passe: vous vous inscrivez, imaginant qu’un de vos amis vous recommande le service. Ensuite, comme vous commencez à en avoir l’habitude, Quechup vous propose de regarder dans votre carnet d’adresses pour voir si des contacts à vous sont déjà inscrits au réseau.

Vous donnez donc votre adresse et votre mot de passe pour que Quechup aille regarder, confiant que le service, comme d’autres que vous connaissez, vous proposera une liste de noms déjà inscrits que vous pourrez ajouter à vos contacts, et vous permettra aussi si vous le désirez d’inviter par e-mail certaines de vos connaissances.

Erreur! sitôt en possession de votre carnet d’adresses, Quechup envoie aussi sec une invitation à toutes les personnes qui s’y trouvent, sans que vous puissiez l’en empêcher.

Donc: Quechup => poubelle.

Si vous vous êtes fait prendre, premièrement ne vous donnez pas trop de coups de pied, d’autres s’y sont fait prendre (et pas des moindres, parfois, comme Hugh McLeod). Et deuxièmement, avertissez vos contacts (via mail ou blog) de ne pas donner suite à la jolie invitations personnalisée qu’ils viennent de recevoir de votre part… avant qu’il ne soit trop tard!

Empêchez le fléau Quechup de se répandre!

We Need Structured Portable Social Networks (SPSN) [en]

[fr] Nous avons besoin de réseaux sociaux que l'on peut importer/exporter d'un outil/service à l'autre. Nous avons également besoin de pouvoir structurer ces réseaux sociaux qui contiennent souvent un nombre important de personnes. Nous avons besoin de réseaux sociaux portables structurés.

Christophe Ducamp s'est lancé dans une traduction de cet article. Allez donner un coup de main ou bien en profiter, selon vos compétences! Je n'ai pas lu cette traduction, mais je suis certaine qu'elle est utile. Merci Christophe!

Scrolling through my “trash” e-mail address to report spam, I spotted (quite by chance, I have to say) a nice e-mail from Barney, who works at Lijit. Barney asked me if I had any feedback, which I’ll give in my next post, because I need to digress a bit here.

Lijit is a really fun and smart search tool which allows to search through a person’s complete online presence, a remedy, in a way, to the increasing fragmentation of online identity that’s bothering me so much these days. Actually, it was already bothering me quite a few months ago, when I wrote Please Make Holes in My Buckets:

So, here’s a hole in the buckets that I really like: I’ve seen this in many services, but the first time I saw it was on Myspace. “Let us peek in your GMail contacts, and we’ll tell you who already has an account — and let you invite the others.” When I saw that, it scared me (”OMG! Myspace sticking its nose in my e-mail!”) but I also found it really exciting. Now, it would be even better if I could say “import friends and family from Flickr” or “let me choose amongst my IM buddies”, but it’s a good start. Yes, there’s a danger: no, I don’t want to spam invitations to your service to the 450 unknown adresses you found in my contacts, thankyouverymuch. Plaxo is a way to do this (I’ve seen it criticised but I can’t precisely remember why). Facebook does it, which means that within 2 minutes you can already have friends in the network. Twitter doesn’t, which means you have to painstakingly go through your friends of friends lists to get started. I think coComment and any “friend-powered” service should allow us to import contacts like that by now. And yes, sure, privacy issues.

One thing the 2.0 world needs urgently is a way to abstract (to some extent) the social network users create for themselves from the particular service it is linked to. We need portable social networks. More than that, actually, we need structured portable social networks (SPSNs). I’ve already written that being able to give one’s “contact list” a structure (through “contact groups” or “buddy groups”) is vital if we want to manage privacy efficiently (in my horrendously long but — from my point of view of course — really important post “Groups, Groupings, and Taming My Buddy List. And Twitter.“):

I personally think that it is also the key to managing many privacy issues intelligently. How do I organise the people in my world? Well, of course, it’s fuzzy, shifting, changing. But if I look at my IM buddy list, I might notice that I have classified the people on it to some point: I might have “close friends”, “co-workers”, “blog friends”, “offline friends”, “IRC friends”, “girlfriends”, “ex-clients”, “boring stalkers”, “other people”, “tech support”… I might not want to make public which groups my buddies belong to, or worse, let them know (especially if I’ve put them in “boring stalkers” or “tech support” and suspect that they might have placed me in “best friends” or “love interests”… yes, human relationships can be complicated…)

Flickr offers a half-baked version of this. […]

A more useful way to let a user organise his contacts is simply to let him tag them. Xing does that. Unfortunately, it does not allow one to do much with the contact groups thus defined, besides displaying contacts by tag […].

In fact, we need structured social networks not only to deal with privacy issues, but also (and it’s related, if you think of it) to deal with social network fatigue that seems to be hitting many of us. I actually have been holding off writing a rather detailed post in response to danah‘s post explaining that Facebook is loosing its context for her — something that, in my words, I would describe as “Facebook is becoming impossible to manage in a way that makes sense with my life and relationships.” Here’s what she says:

Le sigh. I lost control over my Facebook tonight. Or rather, the context got destroyed. For months, I’ve been ignoring most friend requests. Tonight, I gave up and accepted most of them. I have been facing the precise dilemma that I write about in my articles: what constitutes a “friend”? Where’s the line? For Facebook, I had been only accepting friend requests from people that I went to school with and folks who have socialized at my house. But what about people that I enjoy talking with at conferences? What about people who so kindly read and comment on this blog? What about people I respect? What about people who appreciate my research but whom I have not yet met? I started feeling guilty as people poked me and emailed me to ask why I hadn’t accepted their friend request. My personal boundaries didn’t matter – my act of ignorance was deemed rude by those that didn’t share my social expectations.

danah boyd, loss of context for me on Facebook

I think that what danah is expressing here is one possible explanation to why people are first really excited about new social networking sites/services/tools/whatevers (YASNs) and then abandon them: at one point, or “contact list” becomes unmanageable. At the beginning, not everybody is on the YASN: just us geeky early adopters — and at the beginning, just a few of us. We have a dozen contacts or so. Then it grows: 30, 50, 60… We’re highly connected people. Like danah, many of us are somewhat public figures. From “friends of our heart”, we start getting requests from people who are part of our network but don’t fit in segment we want to reserve this YASN to. We start refusing requests, and then give in, and then a lot of the value the YASN could have for us is lost.

Unless YASNs offer us an easy way to structure our social network, this is going to happen over and over and over again. For the moment, Pownce and Viddler allow me to structure my social network. A lot of work still needs to be done in the interface department for this kind of feature. (Yes, Twitter, I’m looking at you. You said “soon”.)

So, to summarize, we need tools and services which make our social networks

  • portable: so that we can import and export our relationships to other people from one service to another
  • structured: so that we can manage the huge number of relationships, of varying and very personal degrees of intimacy, that highly connected online people have.

Update, an hour or so later: Kevin Marks points me to social network portability on the microformats wiki. Yeah, should have done my homework, but remember, this post started out as a quick reply to an e-mail. Anyway, this is good. There is hope.

Groups, Groupings, and Taming My Buddy List. And Twitter. [en]

[fr] Long, long billet sur la notion de "groupe" en social software et les différentes formes que peut prendre cette notion. Trop raide pour traduire ou résumer, navrée.

Warning: very long post. Not proof-read. Hope it makes sense. Mostly dictated, so if you see funky stuff that isn’t a typo and really looks weird, try reading out loud.

“Group” is a word which is thrown around a lot in the social software/social tools/social networking/social thingy arena. Flickr has groups. Google has groups. So does Yahoo!, of course. CoComment is working on groups (and have been for ages). Twitter is being advised against them (I second that). YouTube, Facebook, Orkut, — “groups” seem to be a compulsory feature for any 2.0 service today. It’s very natural, too: we need to break down large communities in order to be able to function within them (see The Dunbar Number as a Limit to Group Sizes for some thinking around this issue). Unfortunately, it’s also a result of all the 2.0 “community” buzz stuff floating around: “implement groups, and your tool/app will have communities!”

Like many overused words, “group” is actually used in different contexts to mean different things, and this brings about quite a lot of confusion. “How to implement groups” is a theme that I’ve had a few exchanges about with both the coComment and the Twitter people, and I think it’s an impossible question to answer unless we have cleared up the vocabulary a little to start with.

I would like to distinguish between three types of “groups”, which are often all called “groups”, but which have different characteristics and different uses:

  • “groups” or “shared-interest groups” (“Flickr-groups”)
  • “groupings” (“ad hoc assemblages of people with similar interests” — Stowe Boyd)
  • “contact groups” (organising my contacts)

Shared-Interest Groups

This is usually what people think of when they say “group”. It is a set of people who come together to (hopefully) form a community around a shared interest. Usually, one chooses to join such groups. Belonging to the group gives you some kind of special connection to other members (which you might not know, but you now have one thing in common with), and allows you to “do things” you would not be able to do if you were outside the group. (For exemple: send a message to all the people in the group, or post a photo to a shared album.)

Typical examples of this kind of group are Yahoo! Groups or Flickr Groups. People join these groups to be able to build something, share something, or simply hang out with the other members of the group. However, if you look at the way people use this kind of group in communities which are more “social networking”-oriented, like Facebook or Orkut, you will see that they tend to not be that active inside the groups, but that they use them a bit like “tags” to advertise their interests. These groups are therefore not only a way of connecting with other people, but also a way of saying something about yourself. And in some communities, the latter is clearly more important.


Shared-interest groups are a bit limited when it comes to making your application truly “social”, as I heard Stowe Boyd point out during his Building Social Applications Workshop at the LIFT conference earlier this year. Now, I’ve been through Stowe’s blog to try to serve you with a nice citation that explains exactly what he means by “groupings”, and haven’t really found anything that satisfied me. (As far as I can see, Stowe first talks about groupings in In The Time Of “Me First”: IBM Slowr?, and explains a bit more in In The Time Of “Me-First”: Stikkit.)

Here’s the definition Stowe gives in his workshop slideshow, slide 24:

Groupings: ad hoc assemblages of people with similar interests.

Stowe Boyd

As I understand it, groupings are things that “happen” rather than things that people elect to join or build. Groupings emerge within a social network because of the way people are using it. Groupings are things that occur naturally and all the time inside networks, but the tricky part will be to decide which groupings to make visible to the users and how.

The first time I really encountered this type of automatic grouping of users based on their behaviour was in tells you who your “neighbours” are, by picking out people who have similar music-listening habits as yours. So, in last FM, not only can you see my contacts or “friends”, people I have elected to be connected to in some way in the online world of last FM even though our musical tastes may have little in common, but you can also see my neighbours, people I probably do not know and definitely have not chosen to be connected to, but which I am inevitably connected to because we share similar musical tastes.

Isn’t this a more interesting way of interconnecting people than having them explicitly join groups saying “I like this or that artist”? CoComment also has a neighbours feature (I like to think that I’m for something in its existence, as it was one of the first suggestions I made and pushed for about a year ago), but unfortunately you can’t see other people’s neighbours or do much with your neighbourhood. The value groupings will add to your tool or service will depend greatly on which groupings you decide to make visible to your users, what doors being part of a given grouping opens up for the user, basically, what you choose to do with these groupings (display them? Nice, but not enough in most cases).

With all this in mind, if you are trying to figure out “the best way to implement groups” for your application/tool /2.0 service, here is what I would recommend. Start by taking a long hard look at how your application already organises users into possible groupings. What can you make visible? What is interesting? What doors could you open to people who are inside the same grouping? What are your users going to want to do with these groupings?

Some examples of groupings could be:

  • people who have listened to a particular song regularly over the last six months
  • people who favourite my photographs on Flickr
  • people who subscribe to a given blog
  • people who have commented on a given post or blog
  • people who have marked me as a contact
  • people who use a given tag
  • people who comment on posts or photographs tagged “cat”
  • people who ordered this or that book on Amazon
  • people who have been marked as a contact by somebody
  • people who have joined a certain group…

As you can see, the definition of “grouping” is much wider than the definition of “group”. “Groups” are a small subset of “groupings”, which have a performative flavour, as you become part of them by the simple act of stating that you desire to be part of them.

The example before last is a little bit problematic in my sense. Most of the time, a user ends up belonging to a grouping because of the way he or she uses the system. It is your actions which make you part of a grouping. Here, you are not part of a grouping because of something you have done, but because of what somebody else has done to you (added you to her contacts). I have been hesitant for this reason to consider “being somebody’s contact” as a grouping, but if you look at it from the point of view of the social network, it is still a way in which “usage” organisers to people who are part of the network.

The existence of these “passive groupings” (from the point of view of the user who is part of the grouping) invites us to go through the looking-glass and examine what goes on from the perspective of the user creating the groupings by making his connection to other users explicit.

Contact Groups

I hope that we have now come to accept that networks are asymmetrical. It is not because I have marked you as a contact, that you have to mark me back as a contact too. I think that a great source of confusion is the general use of the word “friend” in social networks. There is an emotional component in there that makes it rather difficult to say “well, you might think I’m your friend, but I don’t.” Friendship is supposed to go both ways. “Contact” is a much more neutral word, which is easily understood as meaning “you are, in some way, part of my world here.”

“In what way?” is the big question here. In what way is John part of my world? In what way am I part of his, if at all? I will leave the second of these two questions completely aside in this discussion, for I consider it to be a psychological, emotional, and relational minefield. In our offline relationships, we don’t usually get to know exactly how important we are for our friends or acquaintances, or even love interests. We are treading on eggs, here. And to make things even more delicate, different people use different words to describe the people who are part of their world. These are, in my opinion, human relational issues which are way too delicate to be formalised in a social network without a lot of serious thinking, if they are to be respectful of people’s feelings and meaningful in any way.

The first question, however, is a crucial one. I personally think that it is also the key to managing many privacy issues intelligently. How do I organise the people in my world? Well, of course, it’s fuzzy, shifting, changing. But if I look at my IM buddy list, I might notice that I have classified the people on it to some point: I might have “close friends”, “co-workers”, “blog friends”, “offline friends”, “IRC friends”, “girlfriends”, “ex-clients”, “boring stalkers”, “other people”, “tech support”… I might not want to make public which groups my buddies belong to, or worse, let them know (especially if I’ve put them in “boring stalkers” or “tech support” and suspect that they might have placed me in “best friends” or “love interests”… yes, human relationships can be complicated…)

Flickr offers a half-baked version of this. I say “half-baked” because it does allow me to introduce some organisation in my contacts, but it is not quite satisfying. And regarding what has been said above, this classification is made public — so inevitably, there is no way that it can be satisfying to the person making the classification. It has to remain politically correct. Basically, what Flickr does is allow you to single out certain contacts as “friends” or “family”. This is tame enough, particularly given that the word “friend” has been emptied of much of its meaning by social networks which use it as a synonym for “contact”. What is interesting here is how Flickr uses this classification to help users manage privacy. I can make certain photographs visible only to my friends or my family. I can decide to allow only my contacts to comment. But this kind of control remains quite coarse, because the groups are predefined and may not map well to the way I view my social world and want to manage my privacy.

A more useful way to let a user organise his contacts is simply to let him tag them. Xing does that. Unfortunately, it does not allow one to do much with the contact groups thus defined, besides displaying contacts by tag, which is of course nice, but about as useful as making groupings visible without actually doing anything with them.

Use more precise vocabulary than “group”

Have you noticed how I’ve been using the word “groups” to speak of this way of classifying one’s contacts? Well, instant messaging software uses the word “group” (“buddy groups”, “contact groups”), and that’s what people are used to. Now, imagine the confusion if somebody says “Twitter needs groups”, meaning “contact groups”, and the person listening understands it as “shared-interest groups”? These are two very different kinds of groups. They are organised differently and serve a different purpose. See why I think we need to stop speaking about “groups” in general and be much more precise with our vocabulary?

  • Shared-interest groups are groupings that we actively choose to be part of, they are generally public, or at the least, we know who the other members are, and the point of being part of such a shared-interest group is to be able to do certain things with the other members, or get to know them.
  • Contact groups (normally) passive groupings that somebody puts us into, they are generally private, to the extent that one does not know exactly what grouping one is in, and the interest of such contact groups is mainly for the person creating them, who can choose to treat the people inside them differently (mainly regarding privacy).
  • Groupings, defined by Stowe Boyd as ad hoc assemblages of people with similar interests, can actually be understood as a very generic expression, including the two previous ones, to refer to “ad hoc assemblages of people emerging through social network/software/tool usage.” When it is one’s actions which bring him/her into a grouping, we can speak of “active groupings”, and when it is another’s actions, “passive groupings”.

One could probably say that the way in which a social application implements groupings (which are made visible and how, and which actions, features, permissions or characteristics are associated to them) — shared interest groups and contact groups being two particular species of groupings — is going to play an important role in how successful it is, because groupings in general are the key through which users will interact with each other.

Maybe somebody could start working on a taxonomy of sorts for groupings? We already have active and passive, the weird performative ones that are the similar-interest groups, all the contact group stuff, but we could imagine classifying and analysing groupings by looking at what brings one into a grouping: is it interaction of some type with other users? Quantity of something? Centred around one object, or a collection of objects? Is there a time component? Does it involve reciprocity? What kind of pattern of usage is it linked to? We could go on, and on…

Case-study: Twitter

Even though this post has been ripening in my head (ew!) since February, the reason I am writing it today is the following twitter from Tara Hunt:

Advising Twitter (Britt) AGAINST groups (gameable/spammable) and FOR personal lists (solves group messaging)

twitter from Tara

I have blogged about Twitter quite a few times already, spoken with the Twitter people when I was in San Francisco and sent them a bunch of feedback and ideas that I haven’t got around to blogging yet (I wonder when I will). This should make pretty obvious that I really really like this service. (So that’s the disclaimer: fangirl.)

If you’re still reading this, your head is probably full of groupings/similar-interest groups/contact groups ideas and concepts. Let’s see how they apply to Twitter. The nice thing about Twitter is that it’s a rather simple application, feature-wise (and that’s one of the things that makes it so nice). So, where are the groupings? Here are some:

  • users who are friends with John
  • users John is friends with (not the same grouping!)
  • users John is following (still another grouping, because of the distinction twitter makes between friends/contacts and the act of “following”)
  • users who are following John but he is not following (fans/stalkers, depending on how you look at it)
  • users who answer John’s twitters (with @John)
  • users who use the word “LIFT07” in their twitters

What makes Twitter great? Well, besides the great online/offline integration through the use of mobile phones, the clean, usable interface, the great people using it and the cats in the servers, one of the things that makes Twitter Twitter (if I may say) is what it does with the grouping “users John is friends with”. Well, it’s pretty simple, in fact, and you’ll probably think I’m pointing out the obvious (but that, in my mind, simply indicates how good a job Twitter have done with it): they display all the twitters of those users in that grouping on one page. Well, yeah, I guess that was the Obvious thing to do with that grouping.

Amongst the other types of groupings, one can wonder if Twitter needs to introduce similar-interest groups, or contact groups. I don’t see much of a case for the former, as Twitter is centred around people and relationships rather than the content of their interactions. Twitter is not really about what I’m saying to people. It’s about who I’m talking to. Twitter is precious because it gives me a space in which I can share a little things about my life with anybody who has decided that these little things had some value to them (and that can include non-Twitter users). Twitter it is equally precious because it provides me with a space (and this is where the “what they actually did with that grouping” thing comes in) through which I can stay informed of the little things in lives of others that I have decided were meaningful for me.

Which brings me to contact groups. Contact groups could have two purposes for twitter:
– privacy management
– twitter overflow management, particularly on mobile devices.

Without getting into the technicalities involved (and I’m aware they are not straightforward), let’s imagine that I can tag my Twitter contacts. This allows me to give some structure to my online world in Twitter. I can use that structure in two ways: make certain messages visible only to certain people I have chosen (privacy), receive messages on a given device only from certain people (overflow).

Tagging is the best way to create these contact groups. It leaves each user completely free to organise their world how they wish. It allows multiple classification of contacts. Keep the tags private, and personal dramas are avoided. Multiple classification requires establishing rules for when conflicting orders are given. Interfaces (web and mobile) need to be devised to tag contacts, to set message privacy (default, message by message, on/off style), and following behaviour. Not straightforward, of course, but can certainly be done.

Remains the basic question: does this kind of feature address a real need? (For me, it does.) How is it going to change Twitter if it is implemented? (If this can be predicted…) What might happen if it is not implemented? Well, you know, the usual stuff when making a decision.

Blogging 4 Business Afternoon Keynote: Michael Steckler [en]

Gossip: casual talking, especially about other people’s affairs.

SN are a large and highly engaged audience, so there is a great advertising and branding opportunity there. Rules?

Blogging 4 Business

75% use SN to keep in touch with family and friends.
62% for being nosey
55% express my opinions
49% meet people with similar interests

steph-note: totally tuned out I’m afraid. I think the initial idea of viewing social networks as advertising space put me off, to the point I’m not even sure if he’s saying if it’s a good or a bad thing. Today I just feel like telling people to ride on the Cluetrain.

Personal spaces set up by a brand.

How do you get into that personal area?

  • understand consumers’ motivations for using social networks
  • express yourself as a brand steph-note: I’m wondering if people shouldn’t just forget about brands a bit — not that they’re totally useless, but branding for branding gets tiring
  • create and maintain good conversations
  • empower participants

Participation ecosystem. Recommendations based on personalities.

steph-note: did a really shitty job of taking notes. I’m getting worse and worse today.

Early adopters, onine mavens, online connectors (really important!), followers.

How to? create your own community, find influential bloggers, segment existing customers, attack the niche, start the gossip, reward customers… steph-note: this is exactly the war-marketing vocabulary/mentality the Cluetrain speaks against… Eek.

Summary: SN = large and engaged audience => huge opportunity for branded content and advertising, but there are strict guidelines to how to approach this.

LIFT'07 Social Networking Map Experiment [en]

[fr] Si vous étiez à LIFT'07, remplissez le questionnaire pour l'expérience de Social Networking Mapping!

I can only encourage you to participate in the LIFT’07 Social Networking Map Experiment if you attended the conference. It takes a little while to complete, depending on how extroverted you are, I guess. And if you hang out with evil supernodes, too.

Listing the people I knew before the conference wasn’t too hard, though of course I had to plough through the list. Here are the names I came up with:

Henriette Weber Andersen, Jean-Christophe Anex, Bieler Batiste, Yoan Blanc, Florent Bondoux, Stowe Boyd, Raphaël Briner, Stefana Broadbent, Lee Bryant, Marie Laure Burgener, Riccardo Cambiassi, Jérôme Chevillat, Marco Chong, Matthew Colebourne, Samuel Crausaz, Thierry Crouzet, Pedro Custodio, Nicolas Dengler, Jens-Christian Fischer, Antonio Fontes, David Galipeau, Bruno Giussani, Tanguy Griffon, Matthias Gutfeldt, Laurent Haug, Peter Hogenkamp, Dannie Jost, Christophe Lemoine, Thomas Madsen-Mygdal, Yann Mauchamp, Geneviève Morand, Philippe Mottaz, Hugo Neves da Silva, Nicolas Nova, Bjoern Ognibeni, Roberto Ortelli, Jean-Olivier PAIN, Marc-Olivier Peyer, Bernard Rappaz, Andre Ribeirinho, Martin Roell, Pascal Rossini, Robert Scoble, Rodrigo Sepulveda Schulz, Joshua Sierles, Nicole Simon, John Staehli, Elisabeth Stoudmann, Sandrine Szabo, Olivier Tripet, Guido Van nispen, Benjamin Voigt, Alfonso Von Wunschheim, Ellen Wallace, Bertrand Waridel, Mark Wubben, Chris Zumbrunn, Jan Zuppinger

“New people” I met at the conference was more difficult, firstly because I didn’t get the names of everyone and business cards are only so helpful, particularly when you don’t have any for the people you talked to, and secondly because many people did not include a photo in their profile on the site, or any information about themselves. Here’s the list I managed to compile:

Jeremy Allen, Paula do O Barreto, Nuno Barreto, Brian Cox, Florian Egger, Ramon Guiu Hernandez, Noel Hidalgo, Lisette Hoogstrate, Tom Klinkowstein, Trine-Maria Kristensen, Maya Lotan, Gia Milinovich, Glenn O’neil, Nortey Omaboe, Michele Perras, Ivan Pope, Derek Powazek, Thomas Purves, Dieter Rappold, Colin Schlueter, Maryam Scoble, Sebina Sivac-Bryant, Jewel THOMAS, David Touvet, Remo Uherek, Sarah Wade Hutman

A much smaller list, as you can see. Well, as I knew quite a lot of people to start with, I guess it’s expected to be short — but I’m sure this is at most the two-thirds of the people I met. If we talked and you’re not listed, let me know!

One methodological problem I can see with the survey is that “already knew” and “met for the first time” are not clearly defined. I’ve taken a really wide interpretation of those expressions for this survey. I’m not sure absolutely everyone on my first list would consider they “know” me. Or if I haven’t met a person yet but we’ve got common friends and I’ve followed a lot about them, do I “know” them? Ditto for “met for the first time”. I’d interacted with Gia online after LIFT’06, but this is the first time we talked offline, for example.

Anyway… interested in seeing what will come out of this. Please take the survey!

Please Make Holes in My Buckets! [en]

[fr] Tour d'horizon de mes différents "profils" à droite et a gauche dans le paysage des outils sociaux (social tools). Il manque de la communication entre ces différents services, et mon identité en ligne s'en trouve fragmentée et lourde à gérer. Ajouter des contacts en se basant sur mon carnet d'adresses Gmail est un bon début, mais on peut aller plus loin. Importer ses livres préférés ou des éléments de CV d'un profil à l'autre, par exemple.

Facebook is Stowe‘s fault. Twitter was because of Euan. Anne Dominique is guilty of getting me on Xing/OpenBC. I can’t remember precisely for Flickr or LinkedIn or — OMG! — orkut, but it was certainly somebody from #joiito. The culprits for, DailyMotion and YouTube have disappeared into the limbo of lost memories. Kevin encouraged me to sign up for a good dozen of blogging platforms, open a MySpace account, and he’s probably to blame for me being on Upcoming. As for, I’ll blame Matt because he’s behind all that.

Granted, I’m probably the only one responsible for having gotten into blogging in the first place.

Let’s get back on track. My aim here is not primarily to point an accusing finger to all my devious friends who introduced me to these fun, addictive, time-consuming tools (though it’s interesting to note how one forgets those things, in passing). It’s more a sort of round-up of a bunch of my “online selves”. I feel a little scattered, my friends. Here are all these buckets in which I place stuff, but there aren’t enough holes in them.

Feeds are good. Feeds allow me to have Twitter,, Flickr, and even stuff in my blog sidebar. It also allows me to connect my blogs to one another, and into Facebook. Here, though, we’re talking “content” much more than “self”.

One example I’ve already certainly talked about (but no courage to dig it out, my blog is starting to be a huge thing in which I can’t find stuff I know it contains) is contacts or buddies — the “Mine” in Stowe’s analysis of social applications. I have buddy lists on IM and Skype, contacts on Flickr and just about every service I mentioned in this post. Of course, I don’t want to necessarily have the same contacts everywhere. I might love your photos on Flickr and add you as a contact, but not see any interest in adding you to my business network on LinkedIn. Some people, though — my friends — I’ll want to have more or less everywhere.

So, here’s a hole in the buckets that I really like: I’ve seen this in many services, but the first time I saw it was on Myspace. “Let us peek in your GMail contacts, and we’ll tell you who already has an account — and let you invite the others.” When I saw that, it scared me (“OMG! Myspace sticking its nose in my e-mail!”) but I also found it really exciting. Now, it would be even better if I could say “import friends and family from Flickr” or “let me choose amongst my IM buddies”, but it’s a good start. Yes, there’s a danger: no, I don’t want to spam invitations to your service to the 450 unknown adresses you found in my contacts, thankyouverymuch. Plaxo is a way to do this (I’ve seen it criticised but I can’t precisely remember why). Facebook does it, which means that within 2 minutes you can already have friends in the network. Twitter doesn’t, which means you have to painstakingly go through your friends of friends lists to get started. I think coComment and any “friend-powered” service should allow us to import contacts like that by now. And yes, sure, privacy issues.

But what about all my profile information? I don’t want to have to dig out my favourite movies each time I sign up to a new service. Or my favourite books. Or the schools I went to. I mean, some things are reasonably stable. Why couldn’t I have all that in a central repository, once and for all, and just have all these neat social tools import the information from there? Earlier today, David was telling me over IM that he’d like to have a central service to bring all our Facebook, LinkedIn, OpenBC/Xing, and MySpace stuff together. Or a way to publish his CV/résumé online and allow Facebook to access it to grab data from it. Good ideas, in my opinion.

I’ll mention OpenID here, but just in passing, because although in my dreams in used to hold the promise of this centralised repository of “all things me”, I don’t think that it’s what it has been designed for (if I get it correctly, it is identity verification and doesn’t have much to do with the contents of this identity). Microformats could on the other hand certainly come in handy here.

So, please, make more holes in my buckets. Importing Gmail contacts in sticking feeds here and there is nice, but not sufficient. For the moment, Facebook seems promising. But let me use Twitter for my statuses, for example, or at least include the feed somewhere (I can only include one feed, so I’ve included my suprglu one, but it has a huge lag and is not very satisfying). Let me put photographs in my albums directly from Flickr. Talk with the profiles I made with other similar services. Grab my school and work info from LinkedIn and OpenBC. Then make all this information you have about me available to republish how I want it (feeds, feeds, feeds! widgets! buttons! badges!) where I want it.

Also, more granularity. Facebook has a good helping of it: I can choose which type of information I want to see from my contacts. I can restrict certain contacts from seeing certain parts of my profile. I’d like fine control on who can see what, also by sorting my people into “buddy groups”. “Friends” and “Family” as on Flickr is just not enough. And maybe Facebook could come and present me with Stowe-groupings of my contacts, based on the interactions I have with them.

Share your wild ideas here if you have any.