Flickr: Open Up Tagging Your Photos to the Community, Please [en]

[fr] Permettez à tous les membres de Flickr de taguer vos photos. Moins de travail pour vous et de meilleurs tags pour vos photos!

Tagging one’s photos precisely on Flickr can be a bit of a drag, especially when you upload [over 200 conference photographs](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/tags/reboot9) full of people you don’t necessarily know. Personally, I go through my photos once before uploading them, and the last thing I want to do when I’ve uploaded them is go through them *again* to add tags.

However, I find myself looking at other people’s photos with interest, and it doesn’t take much effort to quickly add a tag or a name while I’m doing that.

Tagging a Photo

Unfortunately, many Flickr users open up tagging only to their contacts (the default, IIRC). My account was like that for a long time. When I [met Derek Powazek in Lausanne](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600211444307/), he told me he had opened up tagging to everybody on Flickr, and that people really participated. I decided to try, and it works. **And** you do retain control in case somebody does something stupid (happened to me… maybe once?)

People are Tagging My Photos!

(I could show you pages and pages and pages like that for [my Reboot photos](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600294706591/).)

So, please, do us a favour (and do me a favour, if you’re taking photographs of me and not [tagging them stephaniebooth](http://flickr.com/photos/tags/stephaniebooth/ “Most of them by me, see?”)).

Go to your [Photo Privacy Preferences page](http://flickr.com/account/prefs/photoprivacy/?from=privacy) (this link will take you there if you’re already logged in to Flickr) and make sure it looks something like this:

Open Up Your Tags To The Community

Then, add tags like [needstags](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/tags/needstags) or [needsnames](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/tags/needsnames) to encourage people to help out. And pass the word around to your friends…

Thanks!

**Update, Friday 21st**

I just realised this is not retroactive. So it only applies to the new photos you upload. If you want to change those permissions on your previously uploaded photos (which I recommend!), you need to [go through the organiser](http://flickr.com/photos/organize/). I’m not sure there is a way to do them all in one go.

Flickr: changing photo permissions

Flickr: change photo permissions

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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](http://www.flickr.com/help/groups/). Google has [groups](http://groups.google.com/). So does [Yahoo!](http://groups.yahoo.com/), of course. CoComment is [working on groups](http://raphaelbriner.electronlibre.com/?p=89#comment-42) (and have been for ages). Twitter is [being advised against them](http://twitter.com/missrogue/statuses/49364082) (I [second that](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/49408962)). [YouTube](http://www.youtube.com/groups_main), [Facebook](http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=17), [Orkut](http://www.orkut.com/), [Last.fm](http://www.last.fm/help/faq/?category=Groups#1012) — “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](http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2004/03/the_dunbar_numb.html) 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.

#### Groupings

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](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/07/stowe-boyd-building-social-applications/) 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?](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/01/in_the_time_of_.html), and explains a bit more in [In The Time Of “Me-First”: Stikkit](http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/01/in_the_time_of__1.html).)

Here’s the definition Stowe gives in [his workshop slideshow, slide 24](http://www.slideshare.net/stoweboyd/building-social-applications):

> 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 Last.fm. Last.fm tells you who your “[neighbours](http://www.last.fm/help/faq/?category=User+Profiles#10113)” 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”](http://www.last.fm/user/Steph-Tara/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](http://www.last.fm/user/Steph-Tara/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](http://www.cocomment.com/you/community) (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](http://www.thomaspurves.com/2007/02/27/are-we-really-friends-the-trouble-with-buddy-lists-in-social-applications/). 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](http://www.flickr.com/help/contacts/) 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](https://www.xing.com/) 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](http://twitter.com) 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](http://horsepigcow.com):

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

twitter from Tara

I have [blogged about Twitter](http://technorati.com/tag/twitter?from=climbtothestars.org) quite a few times already, spoken with the Twitter people [when I was in San Francisco](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/01/12/im-really-liking-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](http://obvious.com/) 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.

Similar Posts:

English Only: Barrier to Adoption [en]

*Foreword: this turned into a rather longer post than I had expected. The importance of language and localization online is one of my pet topics (I’ve just decided that it would be what I’d [talk about at BlogCamp](http://barcamp.ch/BlogCampSwitzerland#unAgenda), rather than teenagers and stuff), so I do tend to get carried away a little.*

I was surprised last night to realise that this wasn’t necessarily obvious — so I think it’s probably worth a blog post.

**The fact a service is in English only is a showstopper for many non-native speakers, hence a barrier to wider adoption in Europe.**

But doesn’t everybody speak English, more or less? Isn’t it the *lingua franca* of today that **everybody** speaks? It isn’t. At least not in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and I’m certain there are many other places in Europe where the situation is similar.

Come and spend a little time in Lausanne, for example, and try communicating in English with the man on the street. Even if many people have done a couple of years of English at school, most have never had any use for it after that and have promptly forgotten it. German is a way more important “foreign language” around here, as it is the linguistic majority in Switzerland, and most administrative centers of big companies (and the government) are in the German-speaking part of the country (which doesn’t mean that everybody speaks German, either).

The people who are reasonably comfortable with English around here will most often be those who have taken up higher academic studies, particularly in scientific subjects (“soft” and “hard” science alike).

And if I’m the person who comes to your mind when you think “Swiss”, think again — my father is British, I was born in England, went to an English medium school and spoke English at home until I was 8, conversed regularly with English-speaking grandparents during my growing years, and never stopped reading in English: all that gave me enough of a headstart that even though my English had become very rusty at the end of my teens, I dove into the English-speaking internet with a passion, and spent an anglophone [year in India](/logbook/). So, no. I’m not your average Lausanne-living French-speaker. I’m a strange bilingual beast.

Imagine somebody whose native language is not English, even though they may theoretically know enough English to get around if you parachuted them into London. (Let’s forget about the man on the street who barely understands you when you ask where the station is.) I like to think of [my (step-)sister](http://isablog.wordpress.com/) as a good test-case (not that I want to insist on the “step-“, but it explains why she isn’t bilingual). She took up the “modern languages” path at school, which means she did German, English, and Italian during her teenage years, and ended up being quite proficient in all three (she’s pretty good with languages). She went to university after that and used some English during her studies. But since then, she honestly hasn’t had much use for the language. She’ll read my blog in English, can converse reasonably comfortably, but will tend to watch the TV series I lend her in the dubbed French version.

I’m telling you this to help paint a picture of somebody which you might (legitimately) classify as “speaks English”, but for whom it represents an extra effort. And again, I’d like to insist, my sister would be very representative of most people around here who “speak English but don’t use it regularly at work”. That is already not representative of the general population, who “did a bit of English at school but forgot it all” and can barely communicate with the lost English-speaking tourist. Oh, and forget about the teenagers: they start English at school when they’re 13, and by the time they’re 15-16 they *might* (if they are lucky) have enough knowledge of it to converse on everyday topics (again: learning German starts a few years before that, and is more important in the business world). This is the state of “speaking English” around here.

A service or tool which is not available in French faces a barrier to adoption in the *Suisse Romande* on two levels:

– first of all, there are people who simply don’t know enough English to understand what’s written on the sign-up page;
– second, there are people who would understand most of what’s on the sign-up page, but for whom it represents and extra effort.

Let’s concentrate on the second batch. An *extra effort”?! Lazy people! Think of it. All this talk about making applications more usable, about optimizing the sign-up process to make it so painless that people can do it with their eyes closed? Well, throw a page in a foreign language at most normal people and they’ll perceive it as an extra difficulty. And it may very well be the one that just makes them navigate away from the page and never come back. Same goes for using the service or application once they have signed up: it makes everything more complicated, and people anticipate that.

Let’s look at some examples.

The first example isn’t exactly about a web service or application, but it shows how important language is for the adoption of new ideas (this isn’t anything groundbreaking if you look at human history, but sometimes the web seems to forget that the world hasn’t changed that much…). Thanks for bearing with me while I ramble on.

In February 2001, I briefly mentioned [the WaSP Browser Push](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2001/02/16/to-hell-with-bad-browsers/) and realised that the French-speaking web was really [“behind” on design and web standards ressources](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2001/02/13/poor-french-web/). I also realised that although [there was interest for web standards](http://mammouthland.free.fr/weblog/2001/fevrier_01.php3), many French-speaking people couldn’t read the original English material. This encouraged me to [blog in French about it](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2001/02/24/tableaux-ou-non/), [translate Zeldman’s article](http://pompage.net/pompe/paitre/), [launching](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2001/03/21/faire-part/) the translation site [pompage.net](http://pompage.net/) in the process. Pompage.net, and the [associated mailing-list](http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/pompeurs/), followed a year or so later by [OpenWeb](http://openweb.eu.org/), eventually became a hub for the budding francophone web standards community, which is still very active to this day.

([What happened with the Swiss Blog Awards](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/04/30/about-the-swiss-blog-awards-sbaw/) is in my opinion another example of how important language issues are.)

Back to web applications proper. [Flickr](http://flickr.com) is an application I love, but I have a hard time getting people to sign up and use it, even when I’ve walked them through the lengthy Yahoo-ID process. [WordPress.com](http://fr.wordpress.com), on the other hand, exists in French, and I can now easily persuade my friends and clients to open blogs there. There is a strong [French-speaking WordPress community](http://wordpress-fr.net/) too. A few years ago, when the translation and support were not what they are now, a very nice little blogging tool named [DotClear](http://www.dotclear.net/) became hugely popular amongst francophone bloggers (and it still is!) in part because it was in French when other major blogging solutions were insufficient in that respect.

Regarding WordPress, I’d like to point out the [community-driven translation effort](http://translate.wordpress.com/) to which everybody can contribute. Such an open way of doing things has its pitfalls (like dreadful, dreadful translations which linger on the home page until somebody comes along to correct them) but overall, I think the benefits outweigh the risks. In almost no time, dozens of localized versions can be made available, maintained by those who know the language best.

Let’s look at teenagers. When [MySpace](http://myspace.com) was all that was being talked about in the US, French-speaking teenagers were going wild on [skyblog](http://skyblog.com). MySpace is catching up a bit now because it [also exists in French](http://fr.myspace.com/). [Facebook](http://www.facebook.com/)? In English, nobody here has heard of it. [Live Messenger aka MSN](http://www.windowslive.fr/messenger/default.asp)? Very much in French, [unlike ICQ](http://icq.com/), which is only used here by anglophile early adopters.

[Skype](http://skype.com/intl/fr/) and [GMail](http://gmail.com)/[GTalk](http://www.google.com/talk/intl/fr/) are really taking off here now that they are available in French.

Learning to use a new service, or just trying out the latest toy, can be challenging enough an experience for the average user without adding the extra hurdle of having to struggle with an unfamiliar language. Even though a non-localized service like Flickr may be the home to [various linguistic groups](http://www.flickr.com/groups/topic/69039/), it’s important to keep in mind that their members will tend to be the more “anglophone” of this language group, and are not representative.

**The bottom line is that even with a lot of encouragement, most local people around here are not going to use a service which doesn’t talk to them in their language.**

***9:52 Afterthought credit:***

I just realised that this article on [why startups condense in America](http://www.paulgraham.com/america.html) was the little seed planted a few days ago which finally brought me to writing this post. I haven’t read all the article, but this little part of it struck me and has been working in the background ever since:

> What sustains a startup in the beginning is the prospect of getting their initial product out. The successful ones therefore make the first version as simple as possible. In the US they usually begin by making something just for the local market.

> This works in America, because the local market is 300 million people. It wouldn’t work so well in Sweden. In a small country, a startup has a harder task: they have to sell internationally from the start.

> The EU was designed partly to simulate a single, large domestic market. The problem is that the inhabitants still speak many different languages. So a software startup in Sweden is still at a disadvantage relative to one in the US, because they have to deal with internationalization from the beginning. It’s significant that the most famous recent startup in Europe, Skype, worked on a problem that was intrinsically international.

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Geeky Frustrations [en]

[fr] Quelques râlages (comme quoi je ne fais pas ça qu'en français) au sujet de certains outils que j'utilise quotidiennement.

Right, so, just so I can get it off my chest, here is a list of little things that bug me with the tools I use daily. If I save them for a “proper write-up” they probably will never be posted, so… here goes.

– Twitter: let me see a differential list of those I follow and those who follow me, both ways. I need to know who is following me that I’m not following (maybe I missed somebody out) and who I’m following but they’re not (to keep in mind they won’t see stuff I twitter).
– Twitter: let me tag my friends, or sort them into buddy groups. Then let me activate phone alerts for only certain groups. One-by-one management is just impossible with 100 or so friends.
– Adium: let me [turn off Gmail notifications](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/5560398). I have Google Notifier for that. I hate having to click “OK” on that window all the time.
– Google Reader: let me [drag’n drop](http://steph.wordpress.com/2007/02/17/dragn-drop-in-google-reader/) feeds from one folder to another.
– Facebook: let me import more than one RSS feed in my notes.
– Nokia 6280 and Macbook: please sync with each other *each time* I ask you to, not once out of three.
– Nokia 6280: gimme a “mark all as read” option for my text messages, please!
– Nokia 6280: I’d say something about the really crappy camera, but there isn’t much you can do about it now, can you.
– iPod: let me loop through all episodes of a podcast instead of having to go to the next episode manually.
– iTunes: let me mix playlists as a source for Party Shuffle (30% My Favorites, 30% Not Listened in Last week, 40% Artist I’m Obsessing Over These Days… for example)
– Google Reader and del.icio.us: find a way to allow me to automatically post Shared Items to del.icio.us too.
– Flickr: let me link to “My Favorite photos tagged …” so I can show my readers what I’ve found.
– **Added 18.02.07 0:10** [Google Ajax-y Homepage](http://padawan.info/web/google_goes_mashup.html): let me Share Google Reader items, not just star them.
– …

Certainly more, but these were those which were bugging me badly just now. Well, they’re off my chest, now I can go back to fretting about all the [stuff I need to get rid of](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/5560379) in my flat and which is still lying around because I haven’t quite figured out the optimal way to dispose of it.

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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](http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503315010) is [Stowe](http://stoweboyd.com/message)’s fault. [Twitter](http://twitter.com/stephtara) was because of [Euan](http://theobvious.typepad.com/). [Anne Dominique](http://annedominique.wordpress.com/) is guilty of getting me on [Xing/OpenBC](https://www.xing.com/profile/Stephanie_Booth). I can’t remember precisely for [Flickr](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny) or [LinkedIn](http://www.linkedin.com/in/sbooth) or — OMG! — [orkut](http://www.orkut.com/Profile.aspx?uid=7955153206158244373), but it was certainly somebody from [#joiito](http://joiwiki.ito.com/joiwiki/index.cgi?IrcChannel). The culprits for [Last.fm](http://www.last.fm/user/steph-tara), [DailyMotion](http://dailymotion.com/Steph) and [YouTube](http://youtube.com/profile?user=Steph “Even got there early enough to grab ‘steph’ — now I get password reminders almost everyday, great…”) have disappeared into the limbo of lost memories. [Kevin](http://epeus.blogspot.com) encouraged me to [sign up for a good dozen of blogging platforms](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/12/11/hosted-blog-platform-test-write-up/), open a [MySpace account](http://myspace.com/stephtara), and he’s probably to blame for me being on [Upcoming](http://upcoming.org/user/94465/). As for [wordpress.com](http://steph.wordpress.com), I’ll blame [Matt](http://photomatt.net) because he’s behind all that.

Granted, I’m probably the only one responsible for having [gotten into blogging](http://climbtothestars.org/about/ “Story here, abbreviated version.”) 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](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/12/addicted-to-technology/), 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, [del.icio.us](http://del.icio.us/steph), Flickr, and even Last.fm 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](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/07/stowe-boyd-building-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](http://www.plaxo.com/) 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](http://cocomment.com) 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](http://galipeau.blogspot.com/) 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](http://openid.net/) 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](http://microformats.org) 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](http://steph.suprglu.com/), 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](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/12/you-should-twitter/). 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](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/07/stowe-boyd-building-social-applications/) of my contacts, based on the interactions I have with them.

Share your wild ideas here if you have any.

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Stowe Boyd: Building Social Applications [en]

***Warning: these are my notes of [Stowe](http://stoweboyd.com/message)’s workshop at [LIFT](http://liftconference.com), meaning my understanding and interpretation of what he said. They might not reflect accurately what Stowe told us, and might even be outright wrong in some places. Let me know if you think I really messed up somewhere.***

**Update 05.2007:** enjoy the (http://www.slideshare.net/stoweboyd/building-social-applications) and the (http://www.stoweboyd.com/message/2007/03/social_me_first.html) (not the workshop!).

Questions to play ball with:

1. What makes social applications social (or not)
2. How can we make applications more social?
3. What are the common factors in successful social applications?
4. What is worth building?

1. iTunes vs. Last.fm; also non-social applications which implement, at some point, some social component.

“Software intended to shape culture.” Stowe Boyd, in Message, August 1999

*steph-note: a step further than “groupware”*

LIFT'07... Stowe Boyd

Applications which are qualitatively different. But they haven’t replaced the rest: people are still building applications which allow people to buy stuff online. But we’re looking for ways to stick the humans back in there (“what do the top 10 authorities on cellphones recommend?”)

Read: The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg (Third Place, not home and not work)

Decreasing affiliation in the USA (Putnam — sp?). People spend less time “hanging out” with people. *steph-note: cf. danah/MySpace* More TV. Commuting isn’t that significant, but hours in front of the TV is. The light at the end of the tunnel, the only hope we’ve got left, is the internet. Social hours spent on the internet are hours not spent watching TV *(steph-note: yep!)*

TV is not involvement in people, but in this “entertainment culture”. TV reached lowest numbers in the USA since ’50s.

One way we can measure the success of a social application is how much it moves us in that direction.

Social: me first. Put the individual in the centre. Look at the difference between traditional journalism (disembodied third voice) and blogging (first person, you know who’s writing and who’s reading). Need to start with needs and desires of the people using it (?).

Adoption happens in stages. First, the application needs to satisfy the needs of an individual, in such a way that he/she comes back. And then, there needs to be stuff to share that encourages the individual to invite his friends in.

my passions — my people — my markets

Start with the people. Put the people in the foreground (but how?) Easy to fail if you don’t do that right. How are people going to find each other? Second, support their networks/networking.

Only third: realisation of money — markets — shipping etc.

Give up control to the users: “the edge dissolves the centre”.

To review a social app, you need to use it “for real” over an extended period of time.

Xing: the edge doesn’t dissolve the centre. E.g. can’t create a group. Need to ask them by e-mail, and they try to control group creation and management.

Build an environment in which people are “free”. Allow them to find each other.

Success factors for a social application: me first and bottom up. Otherwise, it won’t spread.

Blogging: primary goal is social interaction and networking *(steph-note: half agree, there is the “writing and being read and getting some recognition” goal too — and that is not necessarily social **interaction** and does not necessarily lead to **network contacts**)*

What suicide girls get right: low price, real people, real lives, social stuff like chat, pictures, etc. They have the connections between the people as the primary way to go around.

**Semi/a-social**

– iTunes
– Bestbuy.com
– Pandora (until recently)
– After the fact (eBay: reputation, Netflix: friends in a tab, Amazon: recommendations from other users, Basecamp: not that social, fails some of the critical tests)

**The Buddylist is the Centre of the Universe…**

A case against IM being disruptive: the user chooses how disruptive the client is (blings, pop-up messages, etc… same with e-mail)

Totally acceptable to not answer on IM. But also, maybe at times your personal productivity is less important than your relationship with the person IMing you.

“I am made greater by the sum of my connections, and so are my connections.”

(Give to others, and they’ll give to you. Help your buddies out, be there for them, and others will be there for you when you need them.)

List of hand-picked people who are on *your* list.

Groups help huge communities scale, in the way they bring them down to manageable sizes for human beings again. (Dunbar constant, roughly 150 people.)

Six degrees of connection doesn’t work. People are strangers. Even second degree is really weak.

Difference between people you really talk to, and “contacts” (often people will have two accounts => should build this kind of thing into the service — cf. Twitter with “friends” and “people you follow”).

**Me, Mine, and Market.**

Market: it’s the marketplace where the application builders are going to be able to make money by supporting my interaction/networking with “mine”.

You can’t “make an app social”, you need to start over most of the time.

Think about the social dimension first, and then what the market is. E.g. social invoicing app, what could the market be? Finding people to do work for you. And then you can invoice them using the system.

E.g. Individual: “I need a perfect black dress for that dinner party.” => who knows where to shop for the most fashionable stuff? => market = buying the perfect black dress, with commission to the recommender. (New social business model!)

Facebook profile: all about flow, it’s not static. It’s a collection of stuff going on in my world. Information about my blog (posts), friends… I don’t have to do anything, and it changes.

It represents my links to the world. People want to *belong*. Be in a context where what they do and say matters. Make it easy for users to find other people who will care about them.

Orkut failed because it was just social networking for the sake of social networking. Not targeted at a specific group of people. Nobody who cares! Disease-like replication and then died down. Nothing to do there.

Swarm intelligence. People align around authority and influence. Some people are more connected then others. Inevitable. Swarmth = Stowe-speak for measure of reputation. As soon as reputation brings something to those who have it, charlatans step in and try to figure out how to game the system. Need to be aware of that, to discover those cheating mechanisms and counter them.

General principle: things are flowing, and we want to support the rapid flow of information (ie, stuff that goes in my profile). “traffic”: do you make it possible for people to get information from a variety of sources delivered quickly to them? (e.g. Facebook bookmarklet) (traffic=possible metric).

The media hold the pieces, but not the sense of the conversation. You need to immerse yourself into the flow to get it. How transformative is it to get a constant flow of information from people you care about? Can’t evaluate that from the outside.

**Tags**

cf. David Weinberger: tags matter for social reasons. The power of classification is handed out to the users. They use it to find information and to find each other. They define implicit social groupings.

If people don’t “get” tags, the interface isn’t good. Because the concept is really simple. (e.g. Flickr, del.icio.us get it right)

**Discovery**

Primary abiding motivator of anybody on the internet: discovery (things, places, people, self)

**One of Stowe’s pet peeves: Groups and Groupings**

Networks are asymmetric, accept it. Everybody is **not** equal in a group. The groups are always to some extent asymmetric.

Groupings are ad hoc assemblages of peope with similar interests (from my point of view). (My buddy list categorisation.)

Groups try to be symmetric.

Community of tags. They happen automatically.

**Power Laws**

There will always be people with more power than others, get over it. The recommendation of somebody with more swarmth should count more than that of one with no swarmth.

Accept and work with the imbalance of power.

But careful! The people decide who has more swarmth. And you need to constantly counter the games. Natural social systems are self-policient (sp?).

**Reputation**

Measure and reward swarmth *(steph-note: !== popularity, quantity)*

Reputation is not transportable from one network to another.

**Deep Design**

– last.fm (neighbours!)
– upcoming.org (events are nothing without people!!)
– Facebook
– ThisNext (about design and fashion)

First, just build the social app. Once the social stuff is in place, build the market (see Last.fm).

Journal where you can integrate music references. With backlinks from artists.

Mistake? tags aren’t source of groupings.

*steph-thought: Flickr groups are not just about people, they are about editing content (creating collective photo albums).*

If you have an existing social app, and an entrenched body of users, to make people switch to your new product you need to be an order of magnitude better.

Tag beacons: a recommended tag (e.g. lift07)

If you make people tag an item, the tags used stabilize over time. After a while, the same 10-15 tags. Little chance a new user two years latter will suddenly introduce another tag.

ThisNext is pretty. A piece of social interaction stuff missing however — can’t communicate with other people. Profile just leads to recommendations.

**Cautionary Tales**

Basecamp and the Federation of Work: multiple logins, domains — fragmentation. Wanted to be able to pull everything in a single place. Not simple to keep track of everything one has in the system. Pervasive static models with hardly any flow. It’s an online groupware app, not a social app. It doesn’t put me in the foreground.

Outside.in is about finding people who are in your zipcode. I remember Stowe did a post on this some time back. “Where’s the people?”

You only get one first launch. What’s the point of missing it by doing it before you got to the social tipping point?

Blinksale: where’s the market? (invoicing thing)

**Explorations**

Where is all this going? All commerce on the internet in the future will be social. Put in context of social recommendations etc (perfect little black dresses). A social iTunes — what would it look like? They could acquire Last.fm and integrate them to iTunes, for example. I could recommend music to my friends via iTunes…

Calendars are hard! We’re still waiting for the perfect (at least good) calendar-sharing system.

Social browsing… “What should I look at today, based on recommendations of these n people I really find smart?”

Safety/privacy concerns: solutions we have in the offline world need to be emulated online.

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First US Photos [en]

[fr] Les premières photos de mon séjour aux USA.

[My first photos are online.](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157594465240661/) Didn’t take many in Portland, but I got a few shots of a gorgeous sunrise over San Francisco earlier this morning.

San Francisco 8

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Flickr: montrer ses photos privées à qui on veut [fr]

[en] The Flickr Guest Pass allows you to give access to your private photos to non-Flickr users. Read all about it.

Je recommande chaudement [Flickr](http://flickr.com) comme solution pratique, facile à utiliser, puissante et peu chère ([25$/an pour un compte quasi-illimité](http://www.flickr.com/upgrade/)). Le seul problème, c’est que souvent les gens ne veulent pas rendre leurs photos publiques (=visibles au monde entier) mais veulent que leur entourage puisse y accéder.

C’est un problème, car l’entourage en question n’a souvent pas de compte Flickr, et ne peut donc pas accéder aux photos privées.

Maintenant, cependant, fini de se prendre la tête. Flickr offre à chacun la possibilité de créer autant de [Guest Passes](http://www.flickr.com/help/guestpass) qu’il le souhaite. Un Guest Pass est en fait une URL spéciale vers un album Flickr. N’importe qui utilisant cette URL peut voir toutes les photos contenues dans l’album, même si elles sont privées.

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Flickr, ça se prononce comment? [fr]

[en] French-speakers have trouble pronouncing "Flickr". They tend to sound as if they had something stuck in their throat. This is my attempt to educate them. 🙂

La réponse à cette question cruciale pour tous les francophones dans [le podcast de ce soir](http://climbtothestars.org/files/2006-09-10-stephanie-booth-ctts.mp3 “Cliquez pour écouter. 1.3Mb. 3 minutes.”), en un peu moins de 3 minutes (enfin, les 30 premières secondes suffisent si vous êtes vraiment pressés).

To flick(e)r

Un indice: [Flickr](http://flickr.com/ “Pour vos photos… ah, vous savez déjà?”), c’est un jeu de mots sur “flicker”.

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Nokia 6280 compatible Mac :-) [fr]

[en] Nokia 6280 seems nicely compatible with OSX.

Faut que je passe annoncer la bonne nouvelle à MobileZone: mon [nouveau téléphone](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/09/01/banalites-shopping-en-ville/) (Nokia 6280) paraît joliment compatible Apple. Je découvre les joies de la synchronisation sous OSX avec mon MacBook: il faut brancher le câble (j’ai aussi relié les deux par Bluetooth, pas certaine que ce soit nécessaire), et sur le téléphone, choisir mode de connection par défaut pour le câble USB.

On peut ensuite synchroniser contacts (depuis Address Book) et calendrier (iCal).

Concernant le calendrier, j’utilise [Google Calendar](http://google.com/calendar) depuis un moment. C’est joli et on peut y accéder de partout à condition qu’il y ait un ordinateur connecté à internet à disposition. L’idéal serait de pouvoir synchroniser mon téléphone avec gCal, mais ce n’est pas encore vraiment possible (quoique… quelqu’un a le courage de tester [GCalSync](http://www.gcalsync.com/)?). Voici comment je m’en sors:

– je m’abonne dans iCal à mes calendriers Google (en read-only)
– j’ai un troisième calendrier dans iCal que j’appelle “Phone”
– dans les réglages de synchronisation, j’importe les événements créés avec le téléphone dans ce calendrier
– de temps en temps, je l’exporte d’iCal, l’importe dans gCal, et transfère les événements sur les bons calendriers gCal (avant de vider le calendrier “Phone” dans iCal. A la synchronisation suivante, tout rentre dans l’ordre.

En choisissant le mode “Stockage de données”, on peut voir dans Finder le contenu de la carte Mini-SD. Du coup, voici la première photo publiée avec cet appareil:

Desktop

Si vous allez voir [la version originale de la photo](http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=231716309&size=o), vous verrez que les bords sont un peu imprécis. Trop de compression ou bien (gasp!) zoom numérique à l’insu de mon plein gré?

PS: si vous n’avez pas encore de compte [Flickr](http://flickr.com), c’est le moment de vous en faire un. C’est gratuit.

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