Category Archives: Facebook

Review: Free: The Future of a Radical Price

Free: The Future of a Radical PriceFree: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading Free: The Future of a Radical Price reminded me, in many ways, of  The Grand Design.

To understand the universe on the quantum level, you have to embrace understandings and facts that seem ludicrous at human scales. That is, that we have free will; that things cannot be in the same place at the same time; that time progresses at one speed and forward only, are all convenient and explicit truths for our day-to-day existence. But at the subatomic level, that’s not how things work; not at all.

Anderson’s arguments about Free — that is, gratis and libre — are presented in the same sense, if not quite as well or explicitly.

Free does a fine job of explaining the mechanics of how things can be free on the Web: namely, per-unit / per-user costs are so low, they might as well be considered nothing.

He also does a good job of explaining the obvious money-making models applied successfully so far: advertising, freemium (basic service is free; premium service costs money) and non-monetary / indirect recompense, such as an increase in reputation / marketing of ancillary products, such as concerts and merchandise for musicians or speaking engagements and consultations for professionals.

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RIP, Facebook Page

Well, it was an interesting experiment. But my Facebook Page was a wonder of how not to do social media. It was little better than a bookmarking service, and I already use several of those.

On the other hand, Twitter is a far better option for communicating about my business and this blog, and is actually resulting in two-way communication. So I’m going to focus my energies there.

My Facebook page is no more. Long live my personal Facebook profile.

Designers And Developers: Donate Your Time, Talent At New England GiveCamp, June 11-13, 2010

One of the things I found out about at Tuesday’s MSDN Northeast Roadshow stop in Augusta is the first New England GiveCamp, June 11-13 at Microsoft’s Northeast Research and Development center in Cambridge, MA.

New England GiveCampI’m attending, and I’d urge you to do so.

A GiveCamp is basically a gathering of developers, DBAs, project managers, designers and other IT folks in a given place, to donate their time and skills to charitable projects.

In the case of the New England GiveCamp, typical projects include upgrading Access databases, or converting Excel spreadsheets to Access; integrating open-source tools, such as Joomla, Drupal and Django, into existing Web sites; adding various gizmos to and tuning up existing Web sites; and several requests to spruce up the look of various types of collateral.

I believe the biggest mistake you could make in deciding whether to participate is thinking that you don’t have the kind of skills needed. From what’s been said at the GiveCamp’s Web site, there’s going to be plenty to do, whether you’re Linus Torvalds or Linus Van Pelt.

I think this goes doubly for graphic designers. Trust me, if you are an artistic person, no matter how little you think of your work, your worst effort is 10 times better than the best design ever produced by a programmer. I am speaking from extensive personal experience here. We’re the people who gave the Internet Comic Sans, animated GIFs and the <marquee> tag, remember. Please, save us from ourselves.

As the Northeast GiveCamp put it, “If you have the passion, we’ll find a place for you.”

In addition to the technical work on site, there are a myriad other volunteer opportunities both before and during the event, including registration, sponsor solicitation, organizing the development teams and matching them to non-profit organizations, handling logistics for food and snacks, and others we’ll discover along this journey!

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On Facebook, Appendix: The Rapid Decline Of AOL

In an earlier blog post, I called Facebook “a 1998-vintage AOL that doesn’t suck,” by which I meant, Facebook is a convenient way to aggregate and streamline all the information on the Web into a smaller, easier-to-manage stream of information, just as America Online was in its heydey.

The benefit of Facebook over other portals and social media — including AOL — is not only that it brings together several kinds of sharing (video, pictures, text, blog, application, games, etc.), it allows the end user to effectively customize what he shares, how he shares it and with whom.

In other words, the Facebook experience is driven by the end user, not the limitations or expectations of Facebook itself. (Yes, I understand users can’t do things that Facebook is incapable of or unwilling to allow them to do. Please grant me the license to make my general point.)

At least, more so than with other social media platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, etc.

Which made my stumbling across this recent chart from International Business Management News, detailing significant events vs. AOL membership over the last decade, all the more serendipitous (click image for full-size pic at flicker, in new window):

I think it’s safe to assume that old-media thinking is at the heart of the problem. When AOL changed its models, it did so too late; and no amount of stealing big-name talent and purchasing promising start-ups can overcome trying to sell the wrong things to the wrong people in the wrong way.

Again, congratulations to Facebook for its success, be that the result of wisdom beyond its time, sheer luck or a combination of the two.

But I fully expect that luck, wisdom and success to run out, right around the time it looks like the Facebook behemoth can’t be stopped — as it was in 2002, when it looked like AOL would surely own the world, or in 2008, when clearly Google could do no wrong.

All links in this post on delicious: http://www.delicious.com/dougvdotcom/on-facebook-appendix-the-rapid-decline-of-aol