Saturday, November 27, 2010

How To Bootstrap Your New Social Network

What Can We Learn From Facebook and
Disappointing Google Wave and Buzz?
These days I seem to hear new social networking sites launching every other day: Social classified ads site, social site for college students CollegeOnly (I touched on them in my earlier blog), social group site The Fridge, open source privacy-sensitive social network package Diaspora, personal network site Path, etc. If you look at location-based social network (LBSN) only, there are dozens of them starting out following initial success of Foursquare. It seems like every website is either thinking about starting up a new social networking site or incorporating social networking feature into existing site.

This got me wondering. Is there any lesson that we could draw from failed social network attempt, such as Google Wave and Google Buzz? What strategies can we imitate from Facebook and LinkedIn's success? What should be the strategy for new social networking site to bootstrap themselves?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lessons From Google Wave: Even If You Build It, They Might Not Come

Last week Facebook announced that it will expand its messaging service to provide conversation history, integration with IM, email, SMS, and Facebook messages, and social inbox that can filter messages by your social network. When I brought this up to my friends, one friend immediately chimed in and said he's seen these functionalities from Google Wave. I haven't been keeping up with Google Wave. I vaguely remembered hearing about Google Wave is about to shutdown as standalone project in coming weeks.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Data Visualization: Show Me Forest, Not The Trees

Too much light often blinds gentlemen of this sort. They cannot see the forest for the trees.
- Christoph Martin Wieland, German poet and writer (1733-1813)

Internet made all of us to be inundated with more information than we can all possibly consume. There are traditional news media reporting news, blogs and other opinion pieces produced by individual users. And as more people spend their time with Facebook and Twitter, more social media contents are being created by our friends and families. We are all being overloaded with more information than we can handle.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stop Microwaving Your Brain; Don't Hold Cell Phone Against Your Ear

One of the global trends is explosive growth of cell phone users. In United States, there are 285 million cell phones in use as of Dec 2009 according to Wikipedia, and that's 91% of entire US population having a cell phone. Remarkably there are countries that have more cell phones than people. As of now (November, 2010) US may well be on the course to join these multiple cellular device countries with increasing Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad popularity.

Cell phone has clearly revolutionized the way we communicate, provided important tools for social networks, and became a lifeline to connect far-flung population in remote areas of developing world. It has become an essential part of our lives for all.

But there is growing concerns that indiscriminate cell phone use are jeopardizing public health. The cause for concern is cell phone radiation.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

People, Natural Improvisers

Today I want to elaborate on observation that I touched on earlier, that is, people are natural improvisers. When we are faced with something that we want but not provided for, we apply our creativity to improvise to create our own solution within the confines of what system allows.

I'll give you four such examples to illustrate my point. While going through my examples, hopefully I would have made convincing case for you to consider my conclusion: Product design should be continually improved when sufficient level of unintended workarounds are detected.

Monday, November 1, 2010

CollegeOnly: Sorry, Parents... You Are Not Invited

Economists report that a college education adds many thousands of dollars to a man's lifetime income - which he then spends sending his son to college

- Bill Vaughan

When I look back at my thirty something life, I think the most confusing time was when I graduated from high school. There are just too many things to worry about on your own. You have to figure out what to do with your life. If you are in college, you'll have to decide your major; if you are not in college, you'll have to decide how to start making money. I for one didn't know what I was going to do with my life when my high school principal handed me my high school diploma.