After reading the article on Bill Gates leaving his Facebook profile behind due to his inability to distinguish who he knew and who he didn’t, I coudn’t help but wonder if LinkedIN had it right all along? What I mean specifically is LinkedIN’s system of showing pathways to recognition; should Facebook look into implementing something similar? We’re not all Bill Gates but I’m sure you’ve received a request or two where you ask “How do I know him?”.
As I’ve written about previously, I believe we’ve dawned on the new age of relevance. For example, the social currency accrued on MySpace was based on scale of connections within one profile (i.e. John124 has 50,000 friends/popularity contest) yet your “top 8” or first degree of friends was what you paid the most attention to.
Twitter may be the first to marry scale with relevancy, through opening up its API and allowing 3rd party developers to create products such as Tweetdeck that give users the ability to filter or group conversation.
But let’s go back to Facebook for one moment. Facebook has done a plethora right. They’ve recognized the migration patterns of aggregate social networkers who move in crowds from one site to the next (friendster > myspace > facebook) and developed tools to migrate with the herd (e.g. fanbox, facebook connect). Yet every tool in the universe can’t keep the attention of its user base if networks swell to a size that makes social networking counterintuitive.
What I found most interesting about Bill Gates’ decision is simple. Bill Gates does not need 10,000 friends on his social network. When he opens his mouth, he has a core of press ready to dictate every word and push it to mainstream media. What he was looking for was a true method of connecting with individuals who have relevance and meaning in his life.
We get so caught up in the celebrity of owning share of voice within a network. In fact the other day, someone I’m connected to had mentioned he was frustrated with Facebook’s cap on friends at 5000 and is interested in starting his own Ning page. After thinking about this, the individual who made that statement doesn’t need another social network. They need a broadcast tool. And that is not what the fundamentals of social networking is about.
Recently I was lamenting on Twitter regarding my desire to drop voice calling and use a text-centric device only. This isn’t anything new, as I’ve always been fascinated with text over voice (even with text messaging being a total consumer rip off). With VoIP clients such as Skype readily available and my laptop being in my backpack 24-7, I find myself using mobile for voice less and less.
With that said, the traditional QWERTY keyboards, especially on my G1 are frustrating to use. QWERTY’s are better than the alternative however but I keep hoping we continue to see innovation not just with the applications we use, or the XMPP protocol that makes Google Talk so great, but also in the interface.
The iPhone and G1 were great starting points, but what about the other 800 lb. Gorilla? Well, a year ago I was closely following a partnership between Microsoft and Mitsubishi. Researchers at Microsoft and Mitsubishi are working on a new pseudo-transparent touch screen system that allows users to type text, click hyperlinks, and navigate maps from both the front and back of a portable device. A semitransparent image of the fingers touching the back of the device is placed on the front so that users will be able to observe what they’re touching.
Only one problem.
At the time, the prototypes were the size of a tablet PC (see above).
No longer however. As the above video demonstrates, a lot of progress has been make in a year to reduce the size of the transparent interface yet without compromising the concept of using both the front and back of the device for typing.
I always thought Microsoft had something really special with Surface. To take the Surface idea and mash it up in the context of a mobile environment is exciting and innovative all at the same time.
So I was wrong.
For weeks now I’ve been defending the now infamous Gates/Seinfeld ads by explaining that my assumed goal of the campaign was to eliminate any association between Microsoft and the “PC Guy” from the Mac commercials.
According to Gizmodo, Seinfeld is out for now and a PC Guy lookalike will be the new centerpiece to the campaign.
I can’t defend this move but I won’t judge until I see the creative. On first glance however, I’m probably more confused at this direction than the viewers of the original Gates/Seinfeld ads were…
I think I’m the only one on the planet who truly finds these entertaining. My reactions/responses to the Shoe Circus spot can be found all over the blogosphere. To paraphrase though, I am of the belief (and am 1 of many who believe this) that the objective of this campaign is to erase the Apple stereotype of Microsoft as the PC guy. Microsoft wants you to think Jerry when you think spokesperson. So far the watercooler talk will keep this campaign alive in the discussions of consumers for quite some time after they run.
I’ll predict (relatively obvious prediction mind you) that as the campaign progresses, the tone of the campaign will start to center around Windows products themselves. I don’t think the spots will ever run as overtly obvious commercials for Microsoft products. Jerry Seinfeld built his comedic legend around shows about nothing. The goal of Microsoft is to become threaded into every day casual conversation.
Anyway the long version is odd, think Seinfeld meets Lynch. I like it. 🙂