Streaming The Real-Time Web

The MIT/Stanford Venture Lab hosted a fun session this week on Lifestreaming: The Real-Time Web. MC’d by Kara Swisher, who acknowledged to a somewhat flustered Jeff Clavier that she specializes in cheap shots, the session included Bret Taylor, a Friendfeed co-founder, and Loic Le Meur, Seesmic’s CEO.

The key question for me around the shift to the real-time web is how sites cater to different user tastes — some folks like drinking from the fire hydrant, getting a constant flow of information and responding to the trends, while others like to have the information archived (think of the way posts are represented on a blog) and they access it at their convenience.

I expect we will see a lot of innovation at this coal face to allow for the spectrum of usage.

Kara covers the event and includes some video – here.

Social Media Interaction Via Brandstreaming

Richard MacManus has a great introductory piece to the concept of brandstreaming over on ReadWriteWeb.

As defined by Pheedo, brandstreaming refers to the consistent flow of content created by a brand.

I believe that taken as a concerted effort and part of a portfolio of word of mouth engagement, brandstreaming is both a very useful identifier of brand influencers and propagator of conversations. It’s not a platform in itself, but a key piece of the overall social media brand puzzle.

[Picture courtesy of brentjholmes]

Twitter Goes In Search, Finds Summize

I’ve been a big fan of Summize, since this Twitter search engine launched a few months ago. Whenever I’ve wanted to get an accurate snapshot of the conversation on the Twitter microblogging service about a brand, company or person I’ve used Summize.

Twitter has now announced that is has acquired Summize in what will transpire to be a mainly stock-based deal, and the Ney York-based Summize team of five will take up roles at Twitter in San Francisco shortly.

Twitter plans to merge the Summize service and API with their own and integrate it under the Twitter brand. It will be interesting to see if this enhances the Twitter experience or detracts from the Summize search function — I’m hoping it’s an improvement all round.

VentureWrap: Twitter Takes On Amazon

Following on from Twitter‘s $15M Series B funding round at a pre-money of $80M last month, the South Park-based micro-blogging phenomenon has taken on board two further investors.

Joining the already impressive investor lineup of Union Square Ventures and Digital Garage, Spark Capital and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s investment vehicle, Bezos Expeditions, have bought equity in the business.

Spark’s Bijan Sabet will join Twitter’s board and Jeff will no doubt provide invaluable advice around scalability.

In fact, writing on the Twitter blog, Evan Williams points to the vision for the business, and it’s all good:

Twitter will become a sustainable business supported by a revenue model. However, our biggest opportunities will be worth pursuing only when we achieve our vision of Twitter as a global communication utility. To reach our goal, Twitter must be reliable and robust.

Private funding gives us the runway we need to stay focused on the infrastructure that will help our business take flight. We will continue hiring systems engineers, operators, and architects, as well as consultants, scientists, and other professionals to help us realize our vision.

Be sure to follow metarand on Twitter!

Flushing The Data Portaloo: The Looming Portability Squareoff With Users

How close are we to true data portability? It depends who is asking the question as to how it gets answered.

As one of the chief catalysts for the current wave of discussion and (some) action, Chris Saad, points out none of the current high profile implementations are completely true to the overall understanding of portability.

Writing on his blog, Chris sees Facebook Connect, Google’s Friend Connect and MySpace’s Data Availability as important first steps. They are the first shots across the bow to the industry that a data portability battle is coming.

That battle will involve a squareoff between the user: me, you – and the networks collectively.

I like Chris’s address book analogy:

DataPortability is about a different social contract – a contract more closely resembling the one found in the email address book.

My address book is my own. When you email me, or when you communicate with me, you are revealing something about yourself. You define a social contract with me that means that I can use your information to contact you whenever and however I like – I could even re-purpose my address book for all manor of other things.

If, however, you violate that trust, either directly or indirectly, you break the social contract and I will tend to not deal with you again. We can not perfectly engineer these sorts of contracts into systems – we can try, but in the end social behavior will be the last mile in enforcing user rights.

Also, the dichotomy between who ‘owns’ the data is false. In my mind there is shared ownership. While you use a service, it is a shared custodianship of the data. By giving the service your data you’re getting something else in return – utility. In many cases free utility.

You personally, however, have shared (and overriding) ownership over your data. This has been declared as universally true by all the vendors I’ve spoken to.

The question is not one of ownership though, it’s one of control. If you own your data but can’t control it as you choose then ownership is a mute point. Further, the question is not one of if you own it, but rather how much of it you own.

For example, do you own your friends profile data since you have access to it via the social tool you are using? Or have they only granted you access within that social context and under that social contract. These considerations blur the analogy of the purely personal address book.

So where does this leave us. The industry continues to engage in discussion and analyse the meaning of both data portability and the current implementations. As long as this dialogue continues the looming squareoff will remain just that – looming. We are in a honeymoon period in which users are coming to grips with their rights and freedoms and comparing the various networks to determing whether and to what extent they are being violated.

For now, data portability continues to have relevancy and I do not believe our rights have been flushed away. However, I would encourage all players to listen very carefully to the conversation going on.

As I’ve said many times: the Internet giveth, the Internet taketh away – and it can do both with blinding speed. This is especially relevant for Facebook, given the current meme around its intentions started by Umair Haque.

UPDATE: Robert Scoble has a sound analysis of the situation, after an initial misunderstanding on his part. Have a read, the best part is him putting his participation on the Gillmor Gang on mute, having a shower and then coming back on the show. I know it’s been hot in the Bay area the last few days, but this is hilarious and about all the GG seems good for – cooling off.

[Picture courtesy of willgrant]

Open Web One Giant Step Closer: MySpace Offers Data Availability With eBay, Photobucket, Twitter, Yahoo

In an auspicious move that has clearly leapfrogged MySpace ahead of its competition as the open web thought leader, the world’s largest social network and, to date, biggest implementation of Open Social, has launched a Data Availability initiative.

Launch partners include eBay, Photobucket, Twitter and Yahoo and as Ben Metcalfe points out, Data Availability is open to everyone.

Think of your MySpace profile augmenting your Twitter account. My take is that this is less about creating MySpace as a destination and more about personal data objects that can enrichen the web experience.

Here’s a bunch of good stuff to read:

* Ben’s take

* MySpace Press Release

* TechCrunch post

[Disclosure: I am an advisor to MySpace’s parent company, Fox Interactive Media]

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: