Twittertraintosomewhere: a mashup

Twitter is a wonderfully eclectic window into modern life as we near the end of the first decade of this new millenium.

I’ve been collating Twitter posts over the past year that have resonated with me. Posts that scream out “I want to understand the world you see”. Posts that talk to our modern condition: our world of almost complete connectedness, but intense loneliness.

I’ve now mashed this collection up to some music and put it out there. Comments welcome. Where do you fit in?

Stream the mp3:


Stream in Quicktime:


(Dan) Pink’s Business Manga

Stuck in cubicle land without a clue? Wondering why your parachute failed to open in the 80’s? Never did find out who moved your cheese in the 90’s?

Don’t worry – Dan Pink’s got the solution…and it’s all manga:

Johnny Bunko trailer from Daniel Pink on Vimeo

The book, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, focuses on 6 core principles. All good points, worth a read:

* There is no plan

* Think strengths, not weaknesses

* It’s not about you

* Persistence trumps talent

* Makes excellent mistakes

* Leave an imprint

[via @ev on twitter, shoutout to Garr Reynolds]

Peerfluentiality: How To Rank The Success Of A Social Media App

I’ve been pondering the right algorithm for measuring the success of a social media app – what may be called the apps ability to incite peerfluence. I first came across this term courtesy of Stowe Boyd via Twitter and also note that Social Media‘s Seth Goldstein used it in his company’s ad:tech SF press release as well.

UPDATE: Turns out that peerfluence is a registered trademark of a company called peerFluence – see comment below from their CMO, Bill Franchey. I’ve also had a call from their CEO, Darren Johnston and we are playing phone tag – I’m keen to hear more about what they do 🙂 . To clear up any misconceptions, real or otherwise, my point above re Social Media should not be construed as inferring any relationship between these two companies. In addition, I’ll change the word I use from peerfluence to peerinfluence for the rest of this post.

Peerinfluence can be defined as the ability for one person’s actions to influence their peers. Some folks have a high level of peerinfluence, like the inimitable Robert Scoble – I witnessed this first hand when he blogged about Yoick. Other people have become increasingly peerinfluential, such as Chris Saad, the founder of the Dataportability Group.

I believe that we can call a social media app’s ability to incite peerinfluence as its level of peerfluentiality. This is on the one hand a metric of the app’s ability to attract people who already have a high level of peerinfluence and get them to spread the word about it. On the other hand it is also a metric of how many times and for how long the average person spreads the word.

In determining the peerfluentiality ranking of an app there are a number of factors that need to be taken into account:

* Installs – how many installs in total across all networks and platforms

* Networks – how many networks the app is running on

* Platforms – is it running across social networks, the wider web and mobile

* Network effect – basic level (is there simple cross referral “house ads” between disparate apps,)

* Network effect – advanced level (does the network consist of strategically interconnected apps that apply the same game metaphor, storyline or tap the same demographic; are the cross referrals more subtle, eg the Zynga toolbar)

* DAU – of all the installs what percentage are accessing the app on a daily basis

* Engagement – how often are users accessing the app, how many page clicks are they making inside the app, do you have groups, forums or other means for users to talk, share, interact with others around/about the app.

A mix of these factors will determine the peerfluentiality of an app and some of these factors will be bigger drivers than others.

For example, we have seen that simply having a high install base does not mean sustainably high DAU. In fact, many apps that initially attracted lots of users are now flatlining.

Similarly, purely because an app is highly engaging does not necessarily mean it is initially sticky – if the user onramp is too complicated the chances are an installer is less likely to refer it to his or her friends and those who do have it referred to them may not get to the point where it becomes engaging for them.

As we formulate more data around social media apps I expect to be able to tweak this algorithm and seek out optimal peerfluentiality.

Join the Conference Chaser for the Sydney MySpace Developer Platform Kickoff


UPDATE: Watch the recording of the livestream from the event.

I’ve been spearheading the launch of the MySpace Developer Platform in Australia and New Zealand over the past few weeks and I’m real excited to be emceeing the kickoff event tomorrow evening. We’ve had overwhelming interest from developers and social media entrepreneurs and have had to close registrations – sorry, guys if you’re not yet on the attendee list…

But we do have a solution for those of you who are not able to come along physically. Phil Morle has kindly offered to act as Conference Chaser for the event and will be swarming folks in and doing a livestream of the event.  The event will be highly interactive and I’ll be fielding questions both from the floor and through Phil so jump on in:


The Life Media Dashboard: Is It Here Yet?


There is a really interesting meme going on at the moment and it’s captured in Michael Arrington’s blog post heading: Friendfeed, The Centralized Me, and Data Portability. It relates to the tug we all have for some order to the chaotic mix of services we flit between as we try to keep up with what is happening around us. Loic Le Meur sums this up well.

I envy the ordered world of someone who only checks their email once or twice a day and reads the newspaper over a cup of coffee –  but I also totally could not do that — I need my fix of news to be coming in from disparate sources hours and sometimes days before it hits the press, I need to know what my key influencers, colleagues and friends are doing as they do it.

What I don’t need is to have to log into a whole heap of sites in order to get this constant fix.

One day I’ll have One Life Media Dashboard for my web interactions.

The question at present is whether I put all my trust into a site like FriendFeed to provide me with that dashboard. From what I know is coming downtrack I’d say that FriendFeed is headed the right way, but there are other sites that do a far better job of bringing all my feeds (used in the broadest sense possible) together. More on that once I can release info 🙂

Will Data Portability become redundant as a result of these sites popping up?

I doubt it. They are removing a problem (aggregating my feeds) and DP will serve to make this a more seamless proposition for the aggregators. DP will also remove the big leap of faith and trust we currently need to “put all our eggs in the one basket” with a FriendFeed type service as our single Life Media Dashboard.

[Mindmap courtesy of Brian Solis]

At Facebook Value: Can an app developer IPO north of $2 billion?

On the eve of over US$60 million in VC fundraisings by apps developers I found attendees at Sydney’s recent Facebook Developer Garage highly motivated to talk value.

I’ve covered the event in the NEXT section of the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age, but here are some additional notes that never made it to print.

Lee Lorenzen noted via video at the event that once acquired as a registered customer, between 50-80% of users will opt out of receiving email marketing from the website owner. This means there is little opportunity to engage in dialogue with these users who the website owner has paid to acquire. This situation is reversed on Facebook as application owners have multiple opportunities to converse with users.
Slide has approximately 74 million Facebook app installs. This gives them tremendous reach and allows them to touch a high percentage of the Facebook audience, some 5-6 million daily active users a day. Lee Lorenzen feels this is rationale for the US$550 million valuation they received recently when raising their fourth round of funding of US$50 million. In the United States, the Slide userbase by itself represents the third largest, app-centric, social network.
He believes that Slide, “anticipates an IPO within the next 12 months that will be north of US$2 billion.”

Echoing Lee Lorenzen’s views, the organiser of Silicon Valley Developer Garages, Stanley Wong said, “Social media applications are unlike any type of websites in the past mostly due to the fact that they are so viral. It is unheard of before for an application to have 5 million new application installs in 5 weeks starting from zero.”
“ As a result there is a lot of competition for the attention of Facebook users and a ton of developers are jumping into this fray. Developers are already building networks of apps around particular interests so consolidation is another factor that is happening.”
The value of a Facebook user is linked to their use of applications on the social network. In turn, the ability to monetise these applications and convert user value into real value comes down to the performance of these applications.

In the article I mention Slide’s daily active user rate of 12% as being an example of a higher engagement app (most apps range between 1-2% DAU). By contrast Creative Enclave’s massively multiplayer Facebook game, Imperial Galaxy, has achieved an average daily active user rate of circa 35% since launching the beta version just over a month ago.
One benefit of events such as the Facebook Developers Garage is that they form a key foundation stone for making connections, they are core building blocks for innovation and entrepreneurialism.
Look at Europe. Fifteen years ago the continent had little in the way of a solid pipeline for networking amongst technology professionals. Whereas today there is a relative plethora of events – Barcamp, VentureCamp, LeWeb3, Web 2.0 Berlin, the Plugg Conference and the list goes on.
Writing for well known technology blog, Techcrunch, Mike Butcher argues that these events have been a key reason for Europe coming of age as a technology investing arena. Events hardwire the network and once hardwired it becomes easier for professional investors to ply their trade.
As a result the continent has reached the maturation point where it has specialised investor capital available for each stage of a company’s development. From initial seed investors, through startup and expansion capital and on to growth equity and finally buyout. Europe now boasts a crop of successful VC-backed companies like MySQL, which progressed along the venture continuum and was recently acquired by Sun Microsystems.
Sriram Krishnan is one of the organisers of similar events in Singapore, where he has found there to a lot of demand from application developers and corporates interested in developing Facebook applications.
There is now a growing community of developers and the National University of Singapore (emulating the highly successful Stanford FB apps class run by BJ Fogg and Dave McClure) has set up a class focused on developing Facebook appliations. Mr Krishnan is keen to make his next event a simultaneous three-way between Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Stockholm.
As a web community software pundit for a decade, Londoner Toby Beresford was blown away by the Facebook platform when it launched in May 2007.
“The Facebook platform provides a socialised newsfeed, easy authentication, frictionless application install, instant social network and consistent user interface. Pretty hard to beat as a platform to release a new application on.”
He has been organising Facebook Developer Garages ever since and sees these events as a forum to discuss the latest changes on the platform. Like in other cities, developers have left the London events feeling inspired to write apps. For example the review of the Affiliate Window app at an event directly correlated into a spate of shopping apps.
Commenting after a Facebook Garage in Cape Town, Hannes Foulds said, “Right know I just want to sit down and create my killer Facebook application!”

Mr Beresford notes that, “Facebook is very popular in the United Kingdom, it’s hard to express how much it has entered the every day lives of millions of people. Amongst graduates and professionals, rarely a conversation goes by without the mention of Facebook. This is one technology that has crossed the chasm into the mainstream, developing applications for it is only good business sense.”

Magnetism Used To Target Cells


A new method to deliver cells and genes to repair diseased or injured organs in humans in one step closer to reality.

Scientists from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have used magnetic fields and  iron-bearing nanoparticles to drive healthy cells to targeted sites in animal blood vessels.

This post marks the first real widening of our focus here at Metarand in 2008 to cover biotechnology and the life sciences. Along with our previous focus on social media, the Internet and virtual worlds we’re bundling them into a new category – “life media”.

The team leader of this study, Dr Robert J. Levy commented that others researchers have pursued less successful approaches to this novel strategy for delivering cells to targets in the body.

One goal of this cell therapy will be to introduce new cells to recoat the metal stents of heart patients. Many such stents fail over time as smooth muscle cells accumulate excessively on their surfaces and create new blockages.

Dr Levy believes, “This method could become a powerful medical tool.”

Social game mechanics and alternate reality gaming


Anyone interested in the social aspects of game mechanics would do well to read this excellent piece on ZT Online, Giant Interactive’s flagship MMO.

This game has taken China by storm with huge user growth and real revenue generation. Thanks to Jeremy Liew for bringing it to my attention.

You might also want to take a read through Giant’s prospectus – the pic above is an extract from it. A key take away for me is this line:

We believe that our success is largely attributable to our ability to internally develop, operate and market a high quality MMO game tailored to China’s core game player audience.

While ZT Online may have a psychological and economic effect on its players, it is also fascinating to consider the effect of alternate reality game arena – where immersive games are played out in part online and in part in the real world.

Wired has a fun piece on some of the more well known arg protagonists.

At what point do these worlds cross over? At what point would a gamer be able to open a treasure box in game and win a real life luxury item – a Ferrari logo’d box that delivers a real  life 612 P4/5 to the player’s front door?

Game developers should start to consider such mechanisms for synchronicity – such actions would go a long way to making players feel less used by the ‘system’ as Lu Yang eventually felt in the ZT Online article.

Always On Virtual Worlds: Mobiles to increase presence

Chris Sherman Joey Seiler over at Virtual Worlds News has written an insightful piece about how the virtual world arena will intersect with the world of mobiles.

The vision of always on, ubiquitous virtual worlds is a compelling one and will make itself known through what I call the QuadPlay — web+mobile+virtual+real world. Think real world map overlays, sensor networks and embedded systems and you will begin to see the future in this area.

For now though, I point to Google’s move onto the mobile stack and the interest being shown by companies like Alcatel, Cisco, Qualcomm and IBM and as I commented on Chris’s article: it’s not too much of a stretch to see these guys making a play for embedded virtual world/gaming capabilities on mobile handsets in the next now.

Metarand is hatched on Halloween

I’ve recently been interviewed by HatchThat’s Ross Hill.

It’s a broad ranged discussion covering:

  • the areas I think are hot (mobile,web, virtual and real worlds — mashed);
  • UGC and CICS;
  • the importance of business planning versus bplans;
  • iterative, extremely agile leverage of existing platforms (Facebook, Open Social); and
  • the state of venture capital 2.0 (and the lack of it in Australia).