If you're keeping up with all this March Madness, there's never been a more fun and better way to keep up than the CBS Sports NCAA basketball "Official Tournament Bracket" application.
When it works.
TechCrunch reported on Friday that there were a few minor snafus with the application...oh, like the system not knowing that Texas A&M beat BYU (And I'll restrain myself now with the Aggie jokes, considering that I live in Austin).
Mike Arrington points out that "this is the risk that big brands take when they put an app out on Facebook." Risky business indeed, especially in a Cinderella upset year, which we seem to have at least some of this go round.
Me, I don't tend to get too worked up about these sorts of things -- unless, of course, they involve golf. Then you'll see my commenting on the Facebook group as well.
So for me, using the Facebook tournament brackets app was all in good fun and, surprisingly, I found myself leading my small circle of friends who had also downloaded the app (49 points at last count) and filled out their brackets.
Me, the guy who never even started a basketball game on his 8th grade team.
Alas, I did not have Davidson breaking out, and I certainly didn't pick Duke to take an early fall -- but my East and South brackets are poifect.
We'll see where they end up, but the data don't lie so far.
On the subject of nothin' but net data, Mediaweek is reporting that ESPN is cutting ties with Specific Media and other "unnamed" ad networks.
Why the change?
They're more about "arbitrage" than algorithms, which Mediaweek's Mike Shields explains "crystallizes a philosophical debate in the online ad sales industry."
There are those who want to do things the old way, he explains, with the direct selling of premium content brands, and then there are the geeks (NOTE: My phrase for the "math-loving crowd that favors automation and data. Yeah, Google and the like.)
I'm not so sure the two have to be mutually exclusive.
But if you follow the growth curve of Google's share price and compare it to that of most media companies over the last several years, I would submit to you that the geeks (and the ad networks) are leading in growth, if not in absolute $$$.
As Shields also observes, most large publisher sites are "swimming in avails" (available ad inventory) that they can't sell, with between 20 and 70 percent going unsold at any given time.
Ad networks help close those gaps and sell the remnant inventory.
Explain to me again why they wouldn't want to use the ad networks to offload that inventory?
Shields suggests a few reasons, including that large publishers see networks as profiting on "their" brand investments and "their" data, or that using ad networks devalues the power of content.
I think this could be penny wise and pound foolish. If these large publishers have excess remnant availability now, where does that 20-70 percent range slide when the recession heads further down the post?
No, it seems to me the order of the day for Web advertising is more data and more scale, not less.
Privacy concerns aside, the large ad networks deliver both, and the reach and impact of the network effect they can effectively leverage cannot (and should not) be ignored.
But what do I know? I had Duke in the Sweet 16.
I know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who says that Facebook is about to roll out some new privacy controls soon.
Like in the next day.
Caroline McCarthy's "The Social" blog indicates that the new feature will include the ability to control access to one's profile based on "social proximity" (Think six degrees of separation, a la LinkedIn).
So if I don't know ya directly, I don't have to reveal all my profile information to ya.
There's also talk about an IM client being revealed soon on Facebook.
But wait a minute, didn't AOL just spend $850M on Bebo so that they could link up the power of AOL IM with the reach of the Bebo network???
Well, yeah...but that is so earlier this week!
If you really want to know what's going on with your amigos, you can always revert over to FriendFeed, a "lifestream aggregator-turned-social network" says ReadWriteWeb.
Many have suggested FriendFeed is starting to tip, but as RWW points out, it's some serious information overload.
On the other hand, if you thought following your friends' on Twitter was fun, FriendFeed is all about following just about everything your friends are doing online.
Does that include following them as they exclude me from their Facebook privacy controls???
Technorati Tags: aol, bebo, facebook, privacy, search
Not wanting to be left out of the social networking tea party, AOL snapped up UK-based social network Bebo earlier this morning.
According to the press release, the acquisition "will give AOL a premier position in the fast growing world of social media with a network of approximately 80 million unique users."
The press release also points out that Bebo is "one of the leading social networks" in the UK, but ranked number one in Ireland and New Zealand!
This, of course, on the tail of Facebook's ever-growing internationalization strategy kicks in to (Spain, France, etc.) higher gear.
The asking price? A cool $850 million in U.S. cash., and building on the heels of Bebo's AOL IM interoperability deal.
But AOL ain't the only company around mashin' up IM clients and social networks.
Today IBM announced a new secure mashup technology ("SMash" -- GO IBM naming team!) that can pull information from multiple sources (Web sites, enterprise databases, email, etc.) to create a unified view of information.
Even non-technical folk like myself can use it to get insight on complex situation in minutes, and in a way that the distinct information sources from which the SMashup is drawing are secure and keep malicious code from creeping back into the enterprise.
Many more details to be unveiled at the International World Wide Web Conference at Beijing in April.
For now, you can learn more from the full press release.
Meanwhile, be sure to check out the "Combat Training for the Evolving Web Threat" interactive game at the bottom -- I killed a worm and four virii inside of a minute!
Technorati Tags: aol, facebook, internet_security, mashups, web two oh, social networking
The echo chamber is still reverberating overnight from the Sarah Lacy interview of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, even a scant 16 hours after the fact.
I was in the audience, and being both student and fan of good journalism, no matter what medium or delivery mechanism, I can only say I sat in the audience with some friends and colleagues completely stupefied.
Some have called it a train wreck. Others have used other choice words to describe it that I won't put into this family-friendly blog.
I would just simply describe the whole incident as a huge missed opportunity.
Here you have the 23 year-old CEO of one of the hottest Internet businesses going, with an audience that is both open-minded and curious about where the Facebook phenomenon is going and the opportunities it might portend for them as developers and producers of content, and that opportunity seemed to have been entirely wasted by the interviewer by making it all about her and little about Zuckerberg.
As a good friend of mine put in a rehashing of the interview over dinner last night, "it's like you had Marcia Brady interviewing Bill Gates."
Read Jarvis' post for the best post-game analysis.
Meanwhile, Twitter continues to be the effervescent community glue that creates the ties that bind here at SXSW -- and not just for the post Zuckerberg Q&A online ambulance chasing.
At dinner last night in South Austin's ever-popular Polvos, a dinner companion Tweeted that our party was dining at this said establishment.
About fifteen minutes later, an IBM colleague who happened to be monitoring my friend's Tweets appeared table-side to deliver his face-to-face regards.
At first, I thought we had ourselves a new waiter, before said dinner companion recognized the distinguished gentleman.
He explained how he had been monitoring our Twitter conversation and, because he lived about three houses away from the restaurant, thought he'd stop in and say hello firsthand.
We're most glad he did, and we're glad Twitter continues to demonstrate value beyond delivering rapid-fire news of disasters at South By.
Technorati Tags: facebook, bad_journalism, sarah lacy, sxsw2008
Didja see the Grammys last night? I made it about halfway through then realized that I'm woefully out of touch with modern music.
Dug that Circque du Soleil homage to the Beatles, though.
If you missed all the action at the Staples Center, Mahalo's Jason Calacanis found a few video clips on the Internets, including Amy Winehouse's satellite performance of "Rehab" live from London (Winehouse took the most Grammys for the evening, at five.)
The morning after, as the candles were burning out from the all-night Grammys after parties, I stumbled upon this story from the New York Times about Facebook's seemingly endless personal information misuse saga.
The Times' new angle: What happens to your information when you break it off with Facebook?
Apparently, not much -- including having your information not getting completely erased, even though that would be most peoples' expectation after deleting their account.
Speaking of Grammys, as one person interviewed for the story explained: "It's like the Hotel California...You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."
Says another: "...they save your information without telling you in a really clear way."
Facebook's explanation: Leaving some of that basic profile and historical information available in deactivated accounts makes it easier for former Facebookers to return to the fold and reactivate their accounts so that "their information will be available again just as they left it."
What, just in case one goes into Newsfeed withdrawals and is compelled to come back to Facebook?
May be. But Facebook may soon find themselves in consumer data retention rehab themselves, if they're not careful.
The way I see it: It was my information before we started seeing one another, and it'll be my information long after we're done.
Allow me to delete it, all of it, when I decide to leave -- easily and without a court order -- and you might just get another shot at me.
But hold my information hostage...well, that's just no way to treat a former customer, and I'll remember it long after you've allegedly deleted my account.
Technorati Tags: facebook, grammys, privacy, amy winehouse
What a difference a day makes.
This morning, Oracle announced (again) it was going to buy BEA...this time for $8.5B (last time they offered $17/share, this time $19.375...you do the math).
Sun announced it was going to buy MySQL, the open-source database, for $1B.
Twitter is back up and running after getting slammed by the virtual MacWorld crowd trying to spread the good news of the MacBook Air yesterday, although the Twitterati are shaking their finger and threatening mutiny.
To go where, might I ask? Pownce? Jaiku? Compuserve CB Radio???
But let's talk about the really critical news: The BBC is reporting that Facebook has been asked to pull Scrabulous!
Say it ain't so!
I, personally, won't be having Scrabulicious withdrawals, but I have select friends who play trans-oceanic Scrabulous games -- one letter per day -- who may soon be relegated to Facebook Solitaire, a fate worse than d-e-a-t-h.
I stand in solidarity with your Scrabulous selves, but completely understand Hasbro and Mattel alleging copyright infringement (for their original board game, Scrabble, the ownership of which belongs half to each).
But with 500K daily Scrabulous players on Facebook, couldn't a l-u-c-r-a-t-i-v-e d-e-a-l be worked out amongst the interested parties to score a Triple-Triple??!
Yes, Virginia, of course there's a "Save Scrabulous" group on Facebook.
You can join here. Wordsmiths of the Facebook universe, unite.
Finally, on the podcasting front, if you remember the early salad days of podcasting, once upon a time there was a great little podcast series entitled "The Future of..." put out by IBM that explored how technology will change our everyday lives.
Our corporate communications team has breathed some new life into the "Future of..." series, starting with "IBM and the Future of Medical Imaging" (something I've had direct experience with over these past few weeks), followed by the "IBM and the Future of Africa" and "IBM and the Future of Microfinance."
This podcast series was a big hit early on on iTunes, so break out that new iPod Touch, resubscribe. and get back to the IBM future.
Technorati Tags: database, facebook, open source, oracle, scrabulous, ibm, sun
Many kudos to my friends in the New York area who happen to be Giants fans, who whooped up on my Dallas Cowboys last evening.
I humbly eat crow before your feet as I watch Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson get on the plane back to Acapluco or wherever in Mexico it was from whence they came, Terrill Owens tearily feting them with his always emotional sendoff.
A good buddy told me in the NY area that he thought the Cowboys' problem was the ball snap.
That may have been a contributing factor, but I suspect the real problem was that there was no snap with the Cowboys in general.
Speaking of no snap, my DVR somehow missed recording the "60 Minutes" interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but thankfully BoomTown's Kara Swisher (who was also interviewed for the piece) linked the story in her blog this A.M.
Zuckerberg definitely looked the victim of some expert PR handling, but in the process, seemed to also have had the life sucked out of him.
Considering the passion around Beacon and other recent Facebook (dumb) moves, a little rationality could probably go a long way in such a piece.
Then again, a little more openness -- and, uh, maybe a smile once and again for the camera there, buddy? -- could also go a long way in endearing the 23 year-old-wunderkind's to all the fuddy duddys out there trying to figure out what this Facebook thing is, and to all the rest of us who would like to get a better idea of just how far Mark's willing to sell our personal information down the information superhighway.
Instead, Mark patiently and dispassionately explained that the site had to take advertising because he had 400 mouths to feed.
Yeah, well, you and every other advertising-funded startup along the Left Coast, Mark.
Leslie Stahl, 1, Mark Zuckerberg, 0.
Speaking of savvy PR moves, I woke up to a surprise pre-announce of IBM's 4Q earnings early this A.M.
Great move, Armonk! You go, team!
Get WAY out ahead of that Apple MacWorld Expo juggernaut which will inevitably suck the oxygen out of the corporate communicationsphere over the next several days (weeks? months?).
I will neither comment on nor elaborate about said earnings, but I will smile as I politely tell you that can find the details in the full press release here.
Technorati Tags: apple, digital media, earnings, facebook, football, dallas cowboys
Well, I finally downloaded Radiohead's new album "In Rainbows."
You know, the one I could have gotten for free if I could have gotten through on that nefarious Web site.
That's okay, it's now available for $9.99 on iTunes, and I had the whole album within a couple of minutes.
I thought briefly about ordering it via Amazon, where the price was $7.99, but then realized that would take a few days and would have interfered with my need for instant gratification, and anyhow, I'd already waited long enough.
So instead here I am, already listening to the second track, "Bodysnatchers," and must say I'm really digging it thus far. Hey, I don't listen to much radio these days unless it's on the Intertubes, so I hadn't heard any of the tracks thus far, and it really is kind of like being in a rainbow.
Just like until this past year, I'm sure none of the producers of "60 Minutes" had ever heard of Mark Zuckerberg.
But apparently reporter Leslie Stahl was able to track him down, and the early puff release from CBS informs us that Zuckerberg doesn't buy expensive clothes and sleeps on a mattress on the floor in a one-bedroom apartment.
Dude, what are you thinkin'? Buy yourself a bottle of '95 Krug, pick up a used Maserati (Just don't drink the Krug while you're cruising 101 in the new wheels, please)!
Cmon, you're the happenin' Web 2.0 geek, the new Bill Gates...go out and live it up a little, will ya?
As to the interview, the release indicates that Zuckerberg's committed to fixing his Beacon advertising system but admitted that it does need work.
What's more interesting about the interview is the fact that the bastion of old media reporting, representing a largely 50-60-ish demographic (and I'm a big fan from way back, the Jeffrey Wigand story being the huge exception, and therefore have always probably been an exception to their Nielsens), is turning to a figurehead of emerging new media to...do what, exactly?
Give Gramma a Facebook primer? Try to lure the young media back to the old?
Whatever the reason, kudos to CBS News for allowing comments on the press release.
One post by "Canaima" suggests that Zuckerberg may have a tall mountain to climb:
What I buy & when I buy it is my own business. Why should I want to broadcast it to anyone/everyone on Facebook or anywhere else, for that matter. It''s not like I''m getting some kind of discount to do so. I mean, what''s the incentive for me to do so? If a company wants me to broadcast that I purchased one of their products, then offer me a discount on the product. Otherwise, stick to your tradional ads, (De)Face(d)book. My privacy doesn''t come cheap, and certainly not free.
There's no better way to start the new year than a good blogosphere brouhaha, and Robert Scoble's Facebook data export escapades certainly served as a good launching point for such an incident.
Perhaps they might have picked somebody else with a little lower profile to go and shut down?
Turns out for the good, methinks, as it led to an interesting dialogue about who owns all that data floating around out there: the Internet entities or the yous and mes of the world.
I suppose it was inevitable such a discussion must emerge, and preferably sooner rather than later.
These NetCos are making millions of ad dollars off of yours and my information, leveraging our personal information to serve more targeted ads and hopefully, in the process, helping create a more efficient market between consumer and commercial enterprise.
I'm all for it. The more I watch Facebook blossom, and the more people I find on it, the more useful I think it is...and the more concerned I get about our individual and collective privacy.
Whose data is it, anyway, you ask?
I would argue at the end of the day that it's my data, and that I'm putting it on loan to these sites because it's a fair exchange for mutually beneficial value.
But as Nick Carr observes, none of us is in this alone: "...if you happen to be one of those 'friends,' would you think of your name, email address, and birthday as being 'Scoble's data' or as being 'my data.'"
Whose data, indeed? Calgon, take me away...and take my PII with you and put it someplace safe.
So I input my data into your engine -- and share my friends' data as well so that I can stay in better touch with my far-flung friends and colleagues -- and in return I allow the Facebooks of the world to make a little money by having access to that information to provide more targeted marketing.
But by putting a governor on the data export valve, Facebook (and others) seem to be saying they don't trust folks enough to intelligently handle their own information, even as I and others have spent hours inputting said information for the express purpose of facilitating that mutually benefical value exchange (and making them loads o' money in the process).
While I agree with Carr that Facebook has the responsibility to protect our information, Facebook (and others) should focus more on allowing portability of the most basic information (names, email addresses) so that I don't have to enter this information over and over and over and over again.
If they don't, I figure somebody else will.
Googleified tells us about the new Digg-style experimentation going on over at Google Experimental.
It involves allowing "some selected users" to "influence the search experience by adding, moving, and removing search results."
On any given SERP, a user will be able to move a search result to the top of the page from the bottom using an up-arrow.
Likewise, they can also send said listing down the page, if they don't find it as useful.
Me, I'll about social crowdsourcing myself, and am finding our own tagging implementations inside our Big Blue Firewall to be a nice antidote to not being able to find needed information otherwise.
I suspect social search could lead us in a similar direction.
But Google clearly has to give some serious consideration to a full-on rollout of using this tool on their core search results.
It would be too terribly enticing a system to try and game, especially now that you have a cottage industry of both black and white hat SEOs, and also with so many smaller businesses critically dependent on their long tail Google search results.
My advice: Keep it an experiment for a long, long time.
Meanwhile, Facebook's new advertising "Beacon" grows dimmer by the day.
I TOLD you in this blog many times before that privacy would be Facebook's gremlin, and that they should hire all the lawyers they could find.
Well, BusinessWeek's Catherine Holahan reported earlier that Facebook execs are "discussing changes" to their privacy-infringing Beacon ad system in the wake of "mounting criticism."
What, you mean all those thousands of bloggers and 40,000 Move On petitioners who are up in arms about having their every move tracked so Mark Zuckerberg can get closer to his $15B valuation mark?
The solution is so simple: Opt out instead of opt in.
I don't mind you tracking my every move so long as you give me the choice not to have you track my every move.
When in the world will Web companies get a privacy clue?
I'm a big Facebook fan and use it regularly. I'm rooting for them and sure hope they make the right decision here.
Give choice back to the people that helped make them who they are today.
If not, I fear they'll soon be making some new friends themselves in the social networking dustbin of history.
Technorati Tags: facebook, privacy, online advertising, social networking