Tagged: linkedin

Long before the term “blog” was coined, I had a personal homepage. Earlier this decade, personal homepages started shifting to the blog format. Today, we are seeing those personal blogs die a slow death, as people flock to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Sure, lots of people are still blogging. Blogging is still growing, but I’m seeing a noticeable reduction in volume among the personal blogs that I follow. My own blogging has been reduced somewhat, the main culprits being Twitter and Facebook.

A few years ago, I might blog a quick link to a news article. Today, its either a tweet or Facebook posted item for news stories. I don’t bother with a blog post, unless I want to write two paragraphs or more.

For lots of people, social networking sites are their first exposure to “web publishing.” Those people are going to be less inclined to create their own blogs and personal websites. Why bother creating a blog when “everybody is on Facebook?”

For me, I think there will always be a place for the personal website. Social networking websites are very poor substitutes for blogging, because of the limited exposure, the low signal to noise ratio, and the frequency of the news feed. A two day old Facebook note is never seen again, where a two year old blog post is still very accessible.

It will be very interesting to see how personal blogging will evolve in the next decade. Social networking is a threat, but its also an opportunity for integration with tools like Facebook connect.

The growth of social networking over the last decade has been staggering. Social networking on the Internet is not new, but Facebook has become the Google of social networking sites. Friendster started the trend. Orkut was interesting for 3 months, and Myspace grew exponentially, only to turn in to a e-trailer park.

There are so many use cases for Facebook, because its really a combination of a variety of existing Internet sites in one portal. Whether you want to keep up with family, close friends, co-workers, old classmates, or distant relatives Facebook is the Swiss army knife of social networking.

Once people “see the light” with social networking, they instantly start evangelizing. Its really interesting to hear people’s excuses for not joining Facebook. “Why do I need to join Facebook?” “I don’t care what Ed is having for lunch.” “I talk to all the people I want to via phone and e-mail.” “I find it nosy!” “I can’t control it!”

You can either join the social networking party, or look like luddite. In a few years, people who don’t use social networking will look as obsolete as people who don’t use e-mail. You can resist it all you want, but its only a matter of time.

Social networking is not a necessary technology. By its nature, technology is inherently unnecessary. Human beings only need food, water, and basic shelter, everything else is unnecessary.

GPS? Computers? Ipods? Cell phones? TV? Radio? Air conditioning? Automobiles? Trains? Deodorant? Horses? Electricity? Plumbing? Clothing? Fire?

There is not much in life that is truly necessary. So they next time you’re looking to justify not using a new technology, find a better excuse.

Facebook Connect

Integrating with other websites is one area where social networks have a lot of potential. Social networks need to integrate easily with external websites, and get beyond the typical “walled garden” approach of a centralized social network.

A few years ago, Microsoft came out with an authentication service called Passport, a single sign on service for the Internet. Single sign on is nothing new, but Microsoft’s service was heavily criticized.

Now, Facebook provides a single sign on service called Facebook connect, and with the proliferation of Facebook, I think it has a lot of potential. Basically, instead of having a bunch of accounts at a variety of websites, you can just use your Facebook account.

Facebook connect fixes an old problem with blogs, having to create a login for every blog in order to comment. There is already a plugin for WordPress, and I recently installed it on my blog. Simply click the Facebook connect button on the top right corner, and you can comment on my blog with your Facebook account.

Desktop Linux has come a long way over the last ten years. There are lots of projects and people who have made desktop Linux a viable option for users everywhere. Most notably, the development of Ubuntu has done more for desktop Linux than any other distribution or project.

A lot of the problems that plagued desktop Linux five years ago are solved today. The installation is a lot easier, and hardware support has greatly improved. Usability improvements are obvious, and fundamental applications like web browsing and office suites are on par with the closed alternatives.

While there are lots of areas where desktop Linux has improved greatly, there are a few notable exceptions:

E-mail and Calendaring

The Evolution project looked like it was going to be the great groupware client for Linux, but sadly Novell has pretty much abandoned it over the years, mostly due to their collaboration with Microsoft. There is not a viable alternative to Outlook that runs natively on Linux today. This is a huge barrier to corporate adoption.

Photo and Video Editing

This is the main reason why I had to buy a Mac. You cannot do advanced content creation and use Linux as your primary desktop operating system. There are many basic applications for managing and editing photos, but don’t even try to edit RAW files coming out of a DSLR. There are a few apps that will do it, but nothing close to the sophistication of whats available on OSX and Windows.

Video editing is another glaring support hole for desktop Linux. Sadly, there is no real good solution for this problem. None of the major Linux distributions are going to spend resources developing solutions for content creators. The existing market players like Adobe, don’t have enough fiscal justification for spending money on a Linux port. Sadly, I do not see this situation improving anytime soon.

Device Synchronization

Once upon a time, Ipods played nicely with Linux, but not anymore. Sadly, this is really an Apple problem. Apple has deliberately obfuscated the Ipod in order to prevent it from playing nice with Open source software. Because Ipods are such a huge part of people’s everyday computing, the integration with Linux needs to be seamless. Unfortunately, Apple is evil.

Smartphones are another issue. People need to be able to synchronize their phone with a Desktop computer without having to be a genius. In the age when everyone owns a device that syncs with their computer, Linux is way behind the times.

Ubuntu is popular, popular for a Linux distribution anyway. You think commercial and enterprise Linux distributions would look to Ubuntu for inspiration, but most companies are close minded.

I was in a meeting the other day with some salespeople from Novell, and we were discussing how RPM is essential broken, and its been frozen in time since the late 90’s. I suggested looking at the most popular Linux distribution for inspiration on packaging.

The salespeople looked puzzled, What distribution is that? “Ubuntu” I said.. From the looks on their faces, I think a few of them were questioning Ubuntu’s popularity.

Here is the data from Google trends..

ubuntu is popular Google trends.

Basically, if you take every other popular Linux distribution and combine them, it might equal Ubuntu’s share. Now, your typical sales person would say, “well that’s because they give it away for free!” Sadly, the lack of a price tag has nothing to with Ubuntu’s popularity. Fedora has been around a lot longer (for free) and has more money thrown at it, but Ubuntu still leads.

Redhat and Novell should take a hard look at Debian and Ubuntu, they could probably learn a few things about what makes a good Linux distribution.