paul bennett

Archive for the ‘the uncertain future’ Category

Twitter in the microblogging world now has the pull of Google in the search world – if you’re not ‘on Twitter’ you’re nowhere inn terms of being able to connect, share and promote via microblogging (surmising that Twitter now gets 80 – 90% of microblogging traffic / use.)
This effectively locks the market into one monopoly platform – Twitter.

Imagine this applied to blogging or web publishing. Say there were many publishing services, you could only use one publishing service at a time and publishing service A had 90% of the total traffic and users.

If you weren’t using publishing service A, regardless of the quality of your content, you’d miss out on 90% of the traffic, connection or exposure just by being on a less popular service. Not a nice thought.

Would an open messaging platform – essentially a server application which allows you to create a master account and associate ‘child’ accounts to it for other microblogging services (Twitter, Jaiku et al) make any difference in leveling the microblogging playing field?

The idea is that the platform would broadcast your posts or ‘tweets’ to all your subscribed services, but would also aggregate posts from the users you’re following and stream them back to your ‘open messaging’ client.

Rather than ‘a twitter client’, you could have a general micro blogging client offering not only the power to broadcast your posts to multiple services, but to also aggregate the incoming messages regardless of what service they came from.

It wouldn’t matter what service someone you follow was using (surmising that you also had an account on that service), because in your microblogging client, you’d see one unified stream of updates regardless of the API they were built on.

Microblogging would become a standardised platform in its own right.  Rather than having disparate API’s, an open messaging platform could seek and serve to unify microblogging API’s and REST-based services, or at least provide a simple bridging framework between them.


Sometimes when I’m tired, or in the middle of a project I don’t enjoy I get a bit down. Today has been like 5 of those small ‘down’ times combined. I can’t get into my work, I’m finding it hard to feel positive (unusual for me) and I’m feeling pretty unfulfilled with my professional life in general.

After a short walk, prayer and some thought I realised what I’m lacking: vision.

I’ve been involved recently (outside of work) in leading a group to develop a vision statement along with a set of values and goals used to measure progress towards this vision.

Traditionally, this group has been led by people who lacked clear direction, or who led in a more dictatorial (although well-meaning) fashion.

The entire process has been incredibly energising – people finally got a say into what the future of the organisation should look like, and we’re now going from a rather bland, dull and unexciting place to one where the leaders feel involved. Not only this, now we also know:

  1. where we’re going
  2. what we need to do to get there
  3. how to measure our progress.

You may think of this type of thing as complete rubbish, but I’ve seen it literally transform an organisation.

Ironically I haven’t applied it to my personal life, as I’m ‘too busy’ (sound familiar?), but where else is could clear vision, values and goals be more important for me.

Life without vision, values and goals is what I’ve found it to be today – empty.

ReadWriteWeb wrote up a while ago about Firefox 3 adding offline support for web applications. Arouind the same time, the Google Gears announcement came out and kind of fizzled. (Anyone using Google Gears? Anyone?)

I put this aside but recently discovered that companies are investing time and money into creating offline version of online web apps and using web app API’s to maintain data consistency. Take this offline front end for basecamp as an example.

Forgive me here, but isn’t connection to the internet becoming MORE pervasive every year. We now have not only desktop PC’s accessing and modifying information on the the internet, we have laptops, mobile phones, net-enabled devices and even ambient devices. The future is kind of banking on increased access to ‘the cloud’ in order for everything to tie together.

If today was 10 years ago, then this would make sense, but offline applications simply make no sense to me. If you feel the need for offline apps it seems you need to ask yourself why. If it’s a connection quality issue then it’s your connection which needs dealing with. If it’s commuting then surely there are far simpler tools you probably already have (text editor, word processor) which can perform the same basic functions until you’re online again.

If it’s about using the browser as platform, that’s been happening with Mozilla and Firefox for years via XUL and the Mozilla development engine products like Komodo use to get cross-platform applications functioning much easier.
The only reason I see for this development (especially in Firefox 3) is so Google can add simple offline support to it’s office suite in order to remove one more Enterprise excuse, but it still confounds me that time and energy is being sunk into offline support.

I’ll wait patiently to be educated..

I must admit I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the way we communicate via the web. Facebook (and Bebo) were exciting due to the ability to find old friends and reconnect, as well as seeing what everyone else was up to.

The excitement soon faded when I realised the shallowness of the communication created by these social networks. Everyone was talking, but no one seemed to be talking to anyone else. ‘Pokes ‘ were given, people were ‘bitten’, hundreds of ‘friends’ were added, but the communication in these systems is overwhelmingly one-way. The irony is that a system designed to connect people with others ends up being an exercise in narcissism, with people only really interested in broadcasting what they are doing

It’s all about ‘I’m at work’, ‘I’ve added a new photo’, ‘I threw a Mongolian Wildebeest at Jimbo’. Think about it, if you really wanted to engage with one of your contacts on Facebook / Bebo / your-social-network-of-choice what would you do? It’s likely you’d private message them. Which is remarkably similar to….? That’s right – old fashioned email.

Twitter, which I use every day, is a perfect example of this. The very name says it all – it’s a ‘twitter’ of voices – short, snappy messages people broadcast to friends and followers which details what people are doing, where they are, and pretty much whatever else they wan to fit into 140 characters.

Despite it’s addictiveness, Twitter’s noise to signal ratio is even worse than your average social network. Twitter allows you to follow people and to see their comments in you twitter message stream, but these people have to opt-in to see your messages. To someone who follows a lot of people, but has few people following them, this gives the misguided appearance of being part of a conversation or chat, where the reality is that people you’re following have no idea of your contribution. Unless they choose to follow you, they simply can’t see it. It’s one-way traffic at it’s best.

Maybe I haven’t given these technologies enough time or effort, but I’m quickly becoming disillusioned and saddened by the shallow communication today’s ‘web 2.0’ technologies are fostering.

A recent New Zealand education study showed that the likelihood of educational achievement was a 60/30 split between the home and the school. (I’m not going to ask where the other 10% comes from). This means instead of moaning about your kids school you’d better make sure you have a good attitude towards education and put the effort in to support, encourage, help and motivate your kids.