All posts by tim

SHARED: During Talk, Zuckerberg Hints at Friends List Changes, Calls Upcoming Film â

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Well this is pretty much the most important facebook feature, ever. About time.

Mark Zuckerberg mentioned that Facebook is working on improvements to the friend lists feature during a talk yesterday –“hopefully soon we’ll have something more to talk about,” he said.

Friend lists allow users to categorize friends into named subsets which can be used to restrict distribution of posts, quickly invite a selection of friends to an event, view only certain people in the news feed, and organize Facebook Chat’s buddy list. Zuckerberg explained how sharing something with “friends” used to mean it was relatively private. Now, since people have friends from across their social spheres, it’s important that they be able to share with exactly who they want.

Zuckerberg also reiterated key company talking points yesterday during his talk at the Computer History Museum, formatted as an interview with David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect. One point is that Facebook is nowhere near the end of the product roadmap; the other is that the upcoming film about Facebook’s origins, “The Social Network,” is fictional.

Friend list changes are an intriguing part of that product roadmap. “More and more people have subgroups”, Zuckerberg said, explaining how the definition of friends has evolved since the college-only days when users typically only added their peers. Since registration was opened to everyone, friends began to include co-workers, family members, and others with whom it might be inappropriate to share the same posts that you share with friends. Creating a system with which users feel comfortable sharing personal hardships only with family, jokes and wild stories exclusively with best friends, and only the most benign content with their co-workers or bosses is essential to Facebook maximizing its utility and relevance.

Friend lists, launched in late 2007, made this narrow-casting possible. However, few people have used them even when they were featured more prominently on the site. Per the latest redesigns, they are buried behind the “Friends” navigation button on the home page’s left sidebar, and require a long series of clicks to apply as a privacy parameter for posts. Zuckerberg said “Most people don’t want to create lists of things, but the act of adding friends is a very nice feeling. No doubt it would be better if everyone had these friend groups [automatically] created.”

This hint at a new version of the feature suggests Facebook will analyze user data such as people you are frequently tagged in photos with, who likes your posts, or other relevant information, like location, age, or mutual friends. If combined with instructions for use, a more prominent placement in the interface, and an easy way to share only to a certain list, friend lists could become integral to the future of engagement on Facebook.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere near the end. The product and policy decisions are going to be the most important decisions we make in the next 5 years,” Zuckerberg stressed throughout the talk. “We’re not in maintenance mode, there’s a lot of innovation to do”, he said, emphasizing their work as a platform and utility which can make any website social.

But a threat to Facebook’s longevity is the nagging user worry that the site could use their vast stores of data for evil. “The Social Network” has the potential to increase this worry if audiences think it is factual. In order to minimize reactions to the film coloring the public’s opinion of Facebook, Zuckerberg said he probably won’t see it, repeatedly using the word “fiction” to describe the film. “I wish when people did media or journalism about Facebook that they would at least try to get it right. We try to focus on building the best product and I hope that’s what people remember us for, not the stories along the way.”

SHARED: Sculptures (Composition 1,2,3)

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These are very cool. I particularly imagine myself replacing the big white decorative beam in my dining room with the red and blue artistic beam.

We want to point your attention to our Ikea-related project:

The idea was to build “artworks” which are replicable at a moderate cost by everyone by following the instructions we provide.

The sculptures were exhibited at the “Museo Cantonalde d’Arte” in Lugano, Switzerland.

See more here.

~ Andreas Gysin, Sidi Vanetti


So, Slate has a story right now on the Phoebe Prince bullying death. It’s interesting, but could use some editing. Especially when you start to realize that the DA in the case appears to have a history of using the court for… bullying.

But what stood out for me is the I feel like we’ve lost track of what bullying is. Reading over the accounts it doesn’t sound like bullying at all.

My definition of bullying is negative attention that occurs for little or no reason. I had a lot of negative interactions with other kids in school, but I would define being bullied as having two common components.

  • The negative attention occurs due to things the child has little or no control over – height, weight, parental income.
  • The negative attention occurs no matter how nice the target is to the bully.

A lot of the stories I read about seem to be cases where a kid does something really mean, and then has to deal with the fallout. Other kids being mean because you did something mean to them is not bullying. It’s actually the reason why I want to send my kids to public school. That’s what socialization is. You’re learning how people react when you do things like say something incredibly hateful or racist or sleep with their boyfriend. Before that means you loosing your job.

Which is not to say that dealing with the fallout of socialization can’t be devastating and lead to things like suicide. Just that I’m not sure it’s bullying.

What do you think?

SHARED: Urban Americaâ

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“Detroit, Cleveland, and other Rust Belt burgs were yesterday’s Sun Belt boomtowns. They serve as a cautionary tale about the risks of not having a quality calling card to fall back on when your allure as a growth story fades”

My latest post is up over at New Geography. It’s called the “Urban Quality vs. Quantity Dilemma.” In this piece I examine what we might call “high quality” cities ranging from New York to Portland vs. “high quantity” cities like Austin or Atlanta. The data are very interesting. It looks to me like each sort of place has only got half the puzzle figured out.

The dilemma in America is that it seems that to some extent you can have per capita income and GDP growth or you can have population and job growth, but you can’t have both easily.

As an aside, the most interesting stat I found when looking at the data is that Portland, Oregon had the highest per capita GDP growth of any metro over one million in the US from 2001 to 2008, the full range for which data is available. It’s number one. Portland grew GDP per capita by 22.4%. That’s particularly impressive when you consider how many people are unemployed or underemployed there. Clearly, something about the talent program there is working, because they are really ratcheting up their economic output. So my hat’s off to Portland on this one.

SHARED: Facebookâ

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Well this pretty much explains it. And I thought they were just forgetful.

Chris Sietsema, from Teach To Fish Digital, discusses the algorithm Facebook uses to determine what content to suggest to users:

Deconstructing Facebook’s EdgeRank

Facebook's EdgeRank, from Tech to Fish DigitalFacebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, from Teach to Fish Digital

It’s an extremely interesting look behind the scenes of how Facebook “ranks” content for the purposes of sharing. Hint: the Facebook “Like” button is kind of important in this equation…

Here’s a sample from the article explaining affinity (u):

Those who comment and like your personal updates have a higher affinity (the relationship between object creator and recipient) than those that do not.

on how weight (w) is determined:

Each object is assigned a score based on the number of comments and likes it earns. An object with 15 comments and 20 likes has a much greater weight than an object with 0 comments and likes.

Mr. Sietsema also discusses what all this means to your company, and offers up some content strategy. It’s definitely worth reading, so here’s the link again: Deconstructing Facebook’s EdgeRank

What this means for MailChimp customers

Now I realize that it’s tempting to say, “Bah-humbug! It’s too early to care about all this Facebook Likey stuff, so let’s see how all this plays out before I start changing the way I do my email marketing.”

Fundamentally though, this shouldn’t change the way you do your email marketing that much. It’s all about creating useful content (that people like to share) on a regular basis. In fact, you’re probably already placing “share with your network” links in all your campaigns.

But the Like button is different from the social sharing icons that you’re probably already including in your emails. This is all about Facebook learning what people Like, then Facebook suggesting new content to others (see: Facebook Seeks to Build the Semantic Search Engine).

What’s changing now is whether or not your emails help people “like” your content, and whether or not you want to track all that liking (to learn more about your customers, in order to create even better content).

Here’s how to put the Like button in your emails, and track your total Facebook likes, with MailChimp.  We made it as easy as pasting this merge tag: *| FACEBOOK:LIKE |*

Still want to wait and see if this is all just a fad? Nothing wrong with that. But be sure to check out the “d” in that equation above:

d = time decay factor

Sharing my Shared Sharity

So, I’ve realized that a lot of the effort I used to put in commenting on interesting stuff was going into my Google Reader shared comments. I’m now pulling those out and putting them on my blog in hopes of making this sort of relevant again.