Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hats off to Facebook

When was the last time you logged on to Facebook?  Yesterday?  In the morning?  Or is your browser home page set to Facebook, and your internet surfing does not start until you go through your Facebook news feed?

Although I don't like to admit it, I have become a Facebook junkie of sort.  Granted that I have to be on Facebook for work (such is the life of a guy whose job title has 'social' in it), I have grown used to instant feedback that I get from friends all over the world.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Problem with Google's new strategy

As the readers of my blog will know, I love Google products.  I cannot imagine a day without Google search.  It has become the way I interface with Internet.  Start typing keywords right on Google Chrome browser.  Google gives me all the results that I can possibly look for page after page, and plus some more on the top as advertisements.  For the service that Google provided, this daily reminder of Google surfacing winners of keyword bidding contest right on my result page, it seemed fair.  I was able to tune out for the most part the bit of lost real estate space on my monitor.

Then I saw the Google's new privacy notice.  Along with that, I found out that they will combine all information they have been collecting from YouTube to Google+ and Blogger to create master information of who I really am.  Ok, Google is not interested in who I am, but everything else that I can possibly do on the web through their service.  And there are many.

First I log in to Google Mail to see if there are new mails from over night, quickly browsing the alerts that I set up.  Then open another tab to see my blog activities and to see if I'm seeing any interesting trend in incoming visits.  Then I occasionally open Google Map to get my latest commute update, and search interesting articles that I see from my morning papers.  I do all these without really thinking about if someone out there is piecing all these information together to find out what I've been doing day in and day out, and what I am likely to do next day and next week.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Clarifying Sheryl Sandberg on three trends

First a food for thoughts from Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.  She recently spoke at Digital-LIfe-Design  Conference about three trends driving social media.  It's worth a watch:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Twitter's tough balancing act

Twitter users everywhere are reacting to the news, and I've read several articles taking stance on the latest decision by Twitter.  They ranged from good to really bad, and you can find plenty of examples a last couple of days.  After sleeping on Twitter censorship announcement, I wanted to share a few more perspectives on the news.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tweet withheld

Yesterday Twitter announced on its blog that they will start implementing selective tweet censoring based on geographical location.

Idea is to hide certain tweets in the requested country "only when required to do so in response to what we [Twitter] believe to be a valid and applicable legal request."

From their blog announcement, Twitter suggests that they are implementing this tweet "withholding" to meet legal requirements such as copyright infringement.  But it's not clear whether they will start censoring tweets based on government's request.  What if Syrian government requests Twitter to block all tweets that are related to anti-government movement?  Will Twitter apply their censoring to all regimes' requests?

It's a very slippery slope.  By setting up the precedence of censorship, Twitter will lose user's confidence as the global microblogging media that helped bring about 2011 Arab Spring.

Update 10:43PM PST 1/28: I've slept on this topic, and shared a few perspectives on Twitter's censorship announcement.  You can read them here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A very thin line between bravery and foolishness

I wanted to share one story that I heard from NPR Saturday Weekend Edition.  It was a story about a team of three explorers led by a Swedish man S.A. Andree.  In the late 19th century, Andree had this novel idea of traveling to the North Pole using hot air balloon.  He devised this special mechanism to control balloon's navigation using heavy ropes, and calculated that he can reach the North Pole within 60 hours considering winds and weather patterns.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's the user (YOU), stupid

It's been about 20 months since I said yes to this product management role.  Earlier I spent my time thinking about how to write better code, how to coordinate development team, and how to scale the product in terms of response time and through put as individual developer to development manager role.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Googlers, should you be alarmed?

Earlier today Google made an announcement to simplify their 70+ privacy statements down to one single privacy statement.  The new privacy statement will be effective starting March 1st, and it can be previewed here.  I'm sure everyone is thrilled to see new privacy statement from any company that you deal with.  I for one get enough of those privacy statements in my mailbox to fill a shoebox every year, and yes it goes straight to my recycle bin.  So why should anyone care?

"We can provide reminders that you're going to be late for a meeting based on your location, your calendar and an understanding of what the traffic is like that day. Or ensure that our spelling suggestions, even for your friends' names, are accurate because you've typed them before,"   
                                            - Alma Whitten (Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Online shopping isn't going away

The other day I wrote about how easy it was for my son who's a little over 2 years old to purchase ebooks using Amazon Kindle Touch.  On the way to work, NPR Morning Edition had a story about how publishers and booksellers are seeing Amazon's tactic "predatory".  Then I read about Target putting up their own fight against Amazon to minimize 'showrooming' by shoppers (where shoppers come on to look at the product on the shelf and buy it from Amazon) on Wall Street Journal.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bye bye Cotweet freemium

Cotweet has been one of the few successful Twitter clients that survived Twitter's efforts to consolidate its clients.  It was one of the first products (may be the first) to recognize that incoming tweets can be follow-up item that your team has to respond on.  It offered users a way to assign incoming tweets to someone else to create workflow, and mapped the Twitter functionalities into email paradigm to make it easy for new users to pick up Twitter.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Aligning goals

Many problems that we have today are problems of not aligning goals among multiple groups of people.  Often we think about our goal from our own perspective and fail to see it from someone else's perspective.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Beginning of new era of online activism?

I am sure everyone has heard the news that SOPA has been shelved indefinitely by Congress.  This is a huge victory for all internet users who voiced their concerns through different channels.  Although the related bill PROTECT IP was passed by Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously and SOPA looked strong with backings from heavy-weight lobbyists, internet users were able to rally and change the course.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Building a team

"I learned at a very young age that music teaches you about life. When you're in the midst of improvisation, there is no yesterday and no tomorrow — there is just the moment that you are in. In that beautiful moment, you experience your true insignificance to the rest of the universe. It is then, and only then, that you can experience your true significance."
                                                                                  -Charlie Haden
I heard the above quote from NPR Weekend Edition last Sunday.  While I was driving back from my early morning run, it happened to be on the radio.  Although Charlie Haden, celebrated jazz base player, was talking about music and how he gets in the zone when he improvises on the stage, I was able to relate to his quotation.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Make it easy, toddlers will buy them

There is always first time for everything.  Today on our dinner table one of the topics was our son's online ebook purchase habit on my wife's Amazon Kindle.  Apparently he went ahead and bought a few ebooks from Amazon, most of them with lots of illustrations of trains and cars.  By the way my son is 28 months old.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Switching to Disqus

Some of you may have noticed Disqus comment forum now showing for all Future of Social Network blog entries.  I've made the switch after thinking about benefits of allowing pseudonymous comments as I wrote about the other day.  Unlike Facebook comment forum, Disqus allows commenter to use pseudonym when posting, and I think it's the best way to encourage most constructive discussion as Disqus folks outlined in their infographics.

The most interesting blog sites are the ones that allow foster open discussions about a topic.  Often times comment threads are more interesting than original post itself.  Hopefully one day this blog can become a place where constructive thoughts are shared on interesting topics.

For those of you thinking about switching to Disqus from Blogger comment forum, I can tell you that it took me about an hour and half to complete the entire process.  Starting with step-by-step instructions at Disqus to importing existing comments into Disqus.  It was a breeze.  Thank you, Disqus team.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Future of Social Network will go offline on this Wednesday (1/18/2012)

After reading more about SOPA and what it will mean to overall internet, I've decided to join the protest by redirecting Future of Social Network site to Stop SOPA site.  If you have not heard about SOPA yet, you can read more about it on my blog entry from yesterday.

If you run a website or blog but unsure as to how to join the protest, I want to share 3 options from which you can choose from.  I've found a couple of SOPA protest sites: http://americancensorship.org/modal/sopastrikeoverlay.html and http://protestsopa.org/.  I'm sure there are many more.  You can choose any of the below methods to redirect.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why not SOPA?

There has been a lot of chatter around Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).  In a nutshell, it aims to prosecute those who share any copyright-protected material online by cutting off advertisement payments, having search engines remove the links to those offending sites and requiring ISPs to block access to those sites.  Its intent is to protect copyright holders and intellectual properties by creating legal avenues for copyright holders to go after online piracy sites.  You can read more from this actively maintained Wikipedia link.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Make room for pseudonyms

Last Monday, I posted several questions that I had been thinking about.  One of them was the role of anonymity in fostering constructive discussion.  I had started thinking about this topic since I read a blog on Fred Wilson's AVC back in last Aug.  You can read Fred's point of view here.

After reading Fred's blog, I started thinking about my own behavior and behaviors around me.

Friday, January 13, 2012


When you start anything new, you don't know whether you have what it takes to get to your goal.  It's impossible to know all the variables at play and plan for unknowns.  At some point you have to follow your gut and start cranking out to take one step at a time.  Although you may not be certain whether you might be able to complete the journey, unless you start doing it you'll never know whether your idea was achievable.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Social Media: "solution to" or "symptom of" modern life?

Today Facebook announced their 'listen to music with your friends' feature.  The idea is to listen to the same music while you are on Facebook with your friend.  While listening to the music, you can also chat about the music in real time.  You can read more about that from Facebook blog.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Great platform example

Thanks to Ajesh Shah, my new colleague, I got introduced to a good example of platform tool.  I wanted to share it with you in hopes of clarifying what I meant by platform on my earlier post.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Smart TV? What about content?

This week is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) week.  Because of its timing, it marks the beginning of new year and showcases lot of upcoming products which will set the tone for the electronic gadget trend for the year.  This year I'm hearing a lot about Smart TV.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ask the right question

It's easy to ask a question.  But it's difficult to ask the right question.  Right question gets you closer to the answer by either simplifying the problem, clarifying the boundaries, forcing you to check your assumptions or examining what you know and what you don't know so that you can subdivide the problem into smaller problems.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

One blog a day: why I think it's a great idea

As some of you might have noticed, I have been posting daily blog entries for each day since 2012.  It's only been 8 days so far, and it's unclear how consistently I will be able to keep it up.  But if I don't start and keep at it, I will never know.

There is a reason why I've decided to do this experiment, other than to test my persistence.  I think that sharing an idea often with public is a starting point to collaboration and innovation.  Game of innovation and value creation is not a zero-sum game.  More you collaborate, greater value you can create collectively, and all these must start somewhere from someone sharing ideas.

Steven Johnson talking about noisy cafe as center of innovation and Fred Wilson's AVC blog with an active community collaboration would not have been possible without someone first sharing a point of view.  Entire social network platform is built on top of active user sharing and exchange of ideas.

To that end, hopefully my post can be picked up by someone who are thinking about the similar topics as I am, and can help those start building on the ideas.  Let me first lay out the foundation and starting point by providing my point of view and what I'm seeing and learning from each day.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Roger's 10 hypotheses for tech investing

Here's what's so great about the web.  If you care to look around, you can find wealth of resources.  Only thing that is limiting you is your inability to ask the right questions and be curious.

I stumbled upon Roger Mcnamee's 10 hypotheses for tech investing today:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Innovate as if you are starting new

I've spent this week thinking about big changes in tech industry impacting incumbent market leaders.  Well, it wasn't that I was looking for case studies.  They were on front pages of newspapers through out this week.

A couple of days ago, there were rumors of Kodak running out of liquidity and looking to file bankruptcy to keep its doors open.  Research In Motion was getting heavy pressure to change its top management from investors to stop the falling stock price.  There were also rumors about Barnes and Noble looking to spin off its Nook business to adapt to changing retail environment, and Forbes ran an article talking about slow demise of Best Buy, another retail giant.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

1.2 billion downloads over a week

That's how many times mobile apps have been downloaded between Christmas and New Year's Day.  Let's try putting that in perspective.

According to Gigaom, there are estimated 150 million smartphones in the market by end of 2011.  Let's say out of them, 70% of them were actively downloading apps (which I think is an higher-end estimate; about 50% of smartphone users are reported to enable WiFi according to Nielson).  That makes about 105 million smartphones and their users.  If we assume one user one smartphone, it comes out to each smartphone user downloading about 11 or 12 apps during the last week of 2011 on average.  These are new applications that people found somehow, probably through friends or media recommendations.

People are downloading new apps, and they are trying them to see whether it solves a problem at their hand.  From the evaluation of the app to purchase and download, it takes a minute tops.  And people are going through apps by volume (All things D estimates average iPhone user downloaded about 83 apps in 2011).

Number of these downloads will likely increase, download will become faster, and time that you have to make the first impression will become shorter.  Remember there are several other apps competing for user's attention per each week.  If yours doesn't work, users will move on.

Your app is your new website.  Build it, test it, and perfect it for those users on the go.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Very thin margin of winning

Last night in Iowa, Mitt Romney officially edged Rick Santorum by eight votes. There were 122,255 ballots cast. If our math is right (and feel free to check us), the difference comes to about 0.00654 percent of all votes 
By now everyone who follows American politics would have heard that Mitt Romney won Iowa Caucuses by 8 votes.  Out of hundred of thousands of ballots casted, margin of 8 votes come out to be less than 0.01% of all votes.  Talk about a thin margin, it could not have been any more slimmer margin than this (only 7 other even slimmer margins are possible!).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

API strategy is a must

While researching the social networking API, I stumbled upon these slides by Sam Ramji at Apigee.  They are worth flipping through especially the first 70 slides or so.  Sam draws an interesting parallel of today's API-based application trend with Amundsen's South Pole expedition.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Why where we hang out is important

[...] we leave parts of ourselves all around us, which in turn, come to shape who we are.
By Alix Spiegel @NPR
I was listening to NPR Morning Edition this morning, and heard an interesting story about how we are shaped by our own environment.  You can hear the whole segment here.  It was talking about how we can do things without even thinking about it (sort of auto-pilot mode, if you will), and this habit is closely tied to the cues that we get from our own environment.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

I want to wish everyone happy new year.  I hope everyone gets a chance to prove themselves and while doing so, can make a contribution to building a better society.  2011 has been a tough year for some of us: continued housing slump, unemployment becoming chronic condition for some, those who got hit by natural and man-made disasters and those of us who lost our loved ones oversea in armed conflicts.

Through all these human struggles, I think we became closer to realizing that we are one global community with shared destiny.  Struggle for freedom and justice in one part of world is shared and felt through out our globe, thanks to social media and ever-connected global psyche.

I hope that 2012 will be a better year for all of us on the earth.  Whether we are struggling to find the next job, new home; rebuild from devastation left by tsunami or hurricane; regain the freedom and dignity from oppressors; or recover from the loss of loved ones, I hope we all make a progress toward our goals and can be thankful for 2012 at this time of the year 2013.

Let's all toast to a constructive, peaceful, productive and healing year 2012.