Why Twitter and Twine matter

Much digital ink has been spent trying to explain the likes of Twitter and Twine. Often, they are characterized as the poster children of the Web 2.0 techno trend. Pundits wonder if they represent a new, democratized broadcast platform. Others imagine that they serve as the next gen CRM tool. And skeptics believe these are just tech toys to be quickly dispensed with once the novelty is over.

As I read the plethora of opinions, I was left more and more unsatisfied largely because the answers ignored the “irrational exuberance” often surrounding media’s descriptions of these technologies. Either the media is very easily seduced when it comes to new technology (and that is not a hard argument to make) or they sensed these technologies represented an important trend taking shape beyond the current Web 2.0 craze.

I come down on the side of the latter opinion and believe these technologies do represent “something different”. Yet I could no more articulate the “something different” than anyone else until a recent conversation I had with some colleagues about Twine. I was explaining why I like Twine and how even the name appeals to me because it suggests interconnectivity where like-minded people form a “mini, trusted search circle” among themselves. When you participate in a Twine, you can get more trusted information about the subject of the Twine because it is strengthened, enhanced and expanded by real people. The “twine”, in effect, creates a “trusted search community” becoming more relevant and thus more trusted over time. The name says it all.

And Twitter matters for the same reason. You can follow people whose opinion you trust within a loosely bound and loosely trusted community. Or, you can share with your “followers” (a.k.a. your trusted community) what you think is useful, important, even trusted. Taken even further, I attribute Twitter’s popularity to the media friendly way reporters can get bite-sized updates from their “trusted sources” which is probably one reason why the Twitter scent carried so far and wide. But don’t let the hype around Twitter obscure the value of this technology – it is a means to receive or broadcast personal, relevant and yes, trusted information.

Now I think I can better put my finger on the “something different” I detect in these newer technologies and it revolves around how we use trust in this new web world. In today’s Web 2.0 world, we don’t expect much trust nor does it drive much how people use these social networking technologies. And if “trust” comes up at all, it is thought of as a risk mitigation requirement as in; “I need to be sure I can trust this person trying to friend me because I don’t want to get scammed.” But for this new web to materialize, trust will have to be transformed from the risk mitigation attribute to the key driver for how we optimize our personal, web experience. In essence, the next gen web hinges on the next gen kind of trust that is a proactive, positive part of the web experience.

When thought of in this light, then it becomes clear that the likes of Twitter, Twine and the many other forms of communities (from forums to bloggers to chat rooms) lies at the heart of how the next gen web will accomplish its charter. People today are creating all forms of communities as a way to proactively create different kinds of trust through relevancy made more potent via communal sharing. In the cases of Twitter and Twine, they provide a key, community-based “trusted information filter” to help sort through the deluge of relevant data, (after all, there are only so many “OMG, check this URL/ video out” emails we can sort through). Forums provide a different kind of trust by letting users share experiences and the sharp rise of bloggers’ influence in the social media celeb heap is proof of their power to create trusted communities.

As more and more people become more dependent on the Internet, the community creation groundswell is one indication of how people are imaginatively and proactively filling the “trust gaps” (a phrase I gratefully attribute to Melih Abdulhayoglu, CEO of Comodo) using their trusted communities. I broadly think of Twitter and Twine as variant versions of communities and this is why I assert it makes sense to think of all these emerging communities as smack in the middle of the next gen web rather than the Web 2.0 landscape. They represent people’s desire to create a personal, relevant web and that will, increasingly, be a function of how people are able to create trust in their ever widening web world.

That’s why Twitter, Twine and all forms of communities matter. They are the building blocks of the next gen web – the Trusted Web.

Welcome home.
Judy Shapiro

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“It’s good to be open minded, just don’t let your brains fall out.”

I was reminded of this line, credited to my Grandmother Margit, when I spent a very interesting day last week at the Web 3.0 conference. So many smart people talking about how smart the Web will become.  I was overwhelmed at how little I really know about semantic technologies and data architectures.

But despite my infantile level understanding of these emerging technologies, I was struck by the seeming gap in all the talk. Nowhere could I find anyone talking much about how to make the next web more human by being more trusted.  Trust is the glue that holds society together in the real world and it should be the same in the web world too. But in the conference, you would be hard pressed to hear more than a passing homage to the idea of trust vis-à-vis the next gen web.

My Grandmother’s expression popped into my head probably because staying open about technology is easy for me. What’s harder is staying wary enough to maintain perspective to challenge the technology if/ when it veers off course or worse does not serve humanity. In the case of Web 3.0, I am trying hard to maintain perspective and not be seduced by all the glitz of the technology because our human need for things like trust could get sacrificed on the altar of technology if we are not careful.

Whew! Talk about being a drama queen. But it’s true. I see lots of great technology revolving around the evolving web without a lot of humanity factored in yet. There’s a lot at stake for all of us.

“And what”, you must be wondering at this point, “has this got to do with your Grandmother?” Simple. When I start to contemplate heady stuff like that, my Grandmother’s image usually makes her way into my mind because she was always able to inspire greatness in others. Therefore, permit me a brief digression so that  I can tell you a bit about her which will help you appreciate the power of her words.

My Grandmother was not typical in any way fathomable. She was a Chassidic Rebbetzin (rabbi’s wife), but if any of you think you have an idea of what an ultra-orthodox, rabbi’s wife might be like – I suggest you suspend those conceptions right now. She would blow them away.

For a starter, she was, without a doubt one of the most open minded people I ever knew. She was also, without a doubt, the spiritual leader of the community.  Her husband (the Rabbi) was the final authority in Jewish legal matters, but in every other way, my paternal Grandmother, Margit, was the pillar upon which the community rested. And we all knew it.

Second, one would think she be fairly limited in scope as to who she would interact with. On the contrary. She was the confidante of business leaders, heads of hospitals, politicians, entertainment personalities, religious leaders of all faiths.  She stayed open to all lifestyle and ideas.

Third, she was truly blind to a person’s background in every sense of the word. Everyone was equal in her eyes and the one who needed her help the most was the one that got her attention … every time.

Fourth, through sheer force of personality was able to save all eight of her children and herself while in the Bergen Belsen death camp. Her youngest child, my uncle, was only 3 years in the death camp and is only one of ten babies known to survive the camps.

It is hard to put a finger on her power, but it rested in the simplicity of her world view which rested on trust. She trusted in people. She trusted her God. She trusted her instincts. She understood that people come before religious dogma. She saw the best in you even when you had just done your worst. But mostly she understood that the weakness of the human heart can be strengthened through trust.

The power of this woman shaped many generations after her, myself included. From her I learned to give everyone the benefit of doubt. From her I learned how to refine my ability to grasp the essence of someone quickly and correctly. From her, I began to understand how precious life really is when she told a sad, bitter man who barely survived the war why she did not hate the world, it was because; “Mer hut niche kan berara” – Yiddish for “there is no choice”. She could not fathom a life filled with hate – it was simply not an option for her so she chose to have no choice in this matter. That is an act of will few are capable of. These were the lessons I learned from Margit.

So I am inspired by her to dedicate this effort to rename the next gen web, a.k.a. Web 3.0 etc to the Trust Web in dedication to hearts world over that understand the power to transform rests with the power to trust. The next gen Web can transform us in ways are truly paradigm-shifting and we must stay open to those possibilities.

Judy Shapiro

 

Multiple Digital Personality Syndrome (MDPS)

                                           

I can hear some techno-therapist reassuring his reclining client that Multiple Digital Personality Syndrome (MDPS), while serious if not properly managed, is a perfectly normal response to our unending ability to become anyone we want – whenever we want — in cyber space.

 

This new techno-malady started innocently enough about 5 years ago when we all needed to create zillion of different accounts with different emails and passwords for the sites we wanted to enter. To organize this potentially chaotic situation, we evolved different personas.

 

I, for one, have my generic email, my personal email, my work email, my linkedin and so forth. This seemingly innocent fracturing of our digital personality driven by a short term need has mutated into this new syndrome, MDPS, so that now, many of us have complex multiple personalities reflected in well designed profile pages on multiple social networking sites.

 

Now while many would look at this MDPS as a slightly amusing by-product of Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook, MySpace et al, I see danger lurking in these multiple profiles.

 

If I want good advice about a computer problem from someone I met online, it would be useful to know if this person has credentials to warrant my trust. If I enter a chat room to discuss a topic that I am passionate about, I want to chat with real people – not bots.

 

I wonder how will we learn to balance the need for accountability with the right we have to reveal only as much about ourselves as we choose. I see that this issue will play itself out over and over again in the next few years as social networks dominate how we search, how we shop, how we even meet other people.

 

Perhaps, we must create a new type of balance that starts with the human element. We must start by introducing mutual trust and authentication into the digital ID environment. Much as we have it in the real world where, dependent on the circumstance, different types of identification are used to gain different levels of access. We must translate that model into the digital world too.

 

The technologies are here … now. Web 3.0 needs to become The Trusted Web; otherwise the web will soon feel like what today many experience in inferior, bot filled chat rooms – a pseudo experience meant to emulate real interaction between real people.   

 

Let’s keep it real people. Let’s create the Trusted Web.

 

Judy Shapiro

Brilliance without wisdom is like fire without a hearth.

                                  

It was inevitable.  

Today I read that Twitter is vulnerable to a cross scripting attack. Forgetting the technical jargon for a moment, it is continued evidence of the overall state of social marketing … it is brilliance without wisdom.  

The innovation and brilliance of newer companies like Twitter is that they allow us to connect in diverse and wonderful ways, which underlies the truth that these are brilliant companies. Yet, their relative business “youth” suggests that wisdom is yet to come.  

They are creating huge networks of interconnected people who will become the key filter for how we see our online world. Yet, even as their influence grows, there is no ability to create an environment of trust. There is no ability to authenticate the person you are looking for or who has found you. There is no ability to efficiently harness the brilliance of your social networks to provide you with trustworthy information. Worse, the new social openness that these social networks enable can either be like a fire that can warm since it connects us so easily or, it can burn as in the case of identity theft, if not properly managed or contained.  

This is a tough balancing act to pull off (remaining open and connected yet secure) but I believe the introduction of trust into the web (via an authentication layer) will create the wisdom that lets the brilliance of social networks to fully emerge and warm the digital planet. 

That is what the next generation web should be about. Not just intelligent agents (courtesy of Google) or intelligent computers that understand context or some other “hot” technology that can burn if not well applied. But the next generation web should be about how to apply human wisdom (in the form trust) into the online world.  

We should not call this next generation web, Web 3.0 (after all – that refers to a software release). We should call this next generation web, The Trusted Web. 

Human wisdom — well applied in the digital world.    

Judy Shapiro

Top 5 reasons why social networks will drive how the next generation web will evolve.

                       

We’ve heard the buzz… Web 3.0, semantic web, smarter web (who knew it was stupid in the first place). But beyond the buzz, the idea of the next generation web is simple. How does the web evolve from a generic, impersonal place to a place where we can have a personal experience? How can I get information that is relevant to me? How can I use the web the way I want? How can I create a personal web for myself?

 

The answer becomes clearer when we put the human element at the heart of the conversation which this leads us to, you guessed it, our social networks. Nothing is more personal than our social networks so it’s best to start there in building the next web.

 

Now amazingly, technology that lets us create digital social networks and these social networks are growing like crazy. Companies like Facebook, Paltalk and Linkedin have spread so fast because they begin (mind you only begin) to introduce trust within our newly interconnected and now largely untrusted world.

 

That’s what today’s Paltalk TechNow interactive video event was about. It was entitled; Transforming the Web into YOUR web and it was about what will the next web look like. The show featured Melih Abdulhayoglu, CEO of Comodo and his point was that the foundation of the next generation web is built on trust delivered via an authentication layer. I believe he is right. And taken further, it’s useful to remember that trust is first and foremost a function of social networks. By putting trust at the center of the conversation this puts the emphasis where it belongs – on the human factor. We need trust and we need social networks to help permeate trust within the new web. .

 

And that is why I can make my claim about the critical nature of social networks in the next generation web. I can even back up my assertion with a top 5 list :

 

1) Social networks have begun to dominate people’s online activity. According to Neilson, already 1 in every 11 online minutes is spent in social networks (that’s a lot of time given how new the space is).

 

2) Social networks will become people’s new communications hub. It already provides a diverse set of options for connecting with more people than ever,,, in chat rooms, with IM and in real time broadcasts. This trend will only continue.

 

3) Information obtained via social networks is more trusted than non vetted information. Just like in the real world where I would probably ask my lawyer friend for legal advice, we will  begin our online searches first within our social networks.

 

4) Law of numbers … 2/3 of people use one form of social media or another and more than use email! (Source: Computerworld 3/10/09).  Social networks are becoming our filter into the big and sometimes overwhelming world of Google. Our networks will help us sort good information from bad information.

 

5) Social networks are where people will live more and more when they go online. John Burbank, CEO of Nielson Online said, “Social networking will continue to alter not just the global online landscape, but the consumer experience at large. Social networking isn’t just growing rapidly, it’s evolving — both in terms of a broader audience and compelling new functionality,”

 

So if you want to guess how the next gen web will evolve, look no further than your own networks.

 

Trust the human element. Trust your “peeps”. 

 

Judy Shapiro

The Connected Singularity Is Near

                                      

I have read with relish the book by Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near and I respectfully borrow the phrase. The fundamental premise of his book is that we have approached “the knee of the curve” in our technological evolution, the moment where the pace of change will fundamentally change our biological evolution. Essentially, he argues with good cause, that change is happening faster and more fundamentally than most fully appreciate. 

And I think he’s right based on my personal experience. Much like a woman born at the turn of the last century, who saw in her lifetime the evolution from horseback to space travel, I too have seen a similar step change evolution in the connectiveness of the planet in a mere 15 years. In that time, I saw the transition from limited, one to one communications that was very expensive (I remember the days when a long distance call was a big thing) to a model where we can be connected with virtually no limits in terms of distance or scope.   

It is breathtaking … but I think Kurzweil limits his scope. Kurzweil places technology at the center of the change engine but I think if we focus on technology as the key driver, we limit its potential. We must remind ourselves to put the human factor at the heart of the technology evolution – not the other way around.  

And this focus on the human element must also apply to how the next generation Internet, sometimes called Web 3.0, will evolve. We must give full expression within this evolution to our human instinct to establish trusted connectedness in the web world in the same way we enjoy trusted connectedness in the real world.  

Yet in the conversations today about next generation web there is decided lack of focus on the human factor, (heck even the name Web 3.0 betrays the techno focus). For Google, the next generation web is about technology that delivers a personal web experience via intelligent search agent. For other companies, semantic technology that lets computers understand meaning better, is how the new, next web will evolve. All these technologies are all important, but they are a only a means to an end.  

The end game for the next generation web is the creation of this trusted model of community, commerce and communications for everyone just like we have in our everyday, real worlds. This model puts the human need to trust as central to the conversation — not be peripheral to the thinking. This, for me, suggests we are creating a connected singularity in a Connected Web enabled by a concept of Social Authentication put forward by Comodo. For this new “Connected Web” to work, it must be grounded on trust and trusted networks.  

This is why Paltalk will be hosting the third TechNow event; Transforming the Web into YOUR Web airing March 19 at 3:00 (EST) with Melih Abdulhayoglu, CEO and Chief Security Architect of Comodo. During this live, interactive event, Melih will challenge conventional thinking about how we create the emerging next generation Web, sharing his vision about how a Connected Web needs to be based on trust. Melih will be joined by noted industry analyst, Henry Blodget of Alley Insider, in a discussion about:  

·         Current technical versions and major scenarios associated with next generation Web (semantic, 3D, pervasive, media-centric, etc.)

·         The potential and benefit of web 3.0 for every day people?

·         The functional model of how next generation Internet technologies will combine to deliver this new, next Connected Web  

·         How do we leverage the intelligence of people within a social authentication™ framework as is being defined today by Comodo?

·         How will a trust and authentication layer be introduced into connected community, ecommerce and communications networks?

 

Live, interactive video chat: 

Date: Thursday, March 19th

Time: 3:00pm EST

Room Name: TechNow Network

 

Visit http://technow.paltalk.com/crashdummies for more information, to watch past shows and to sign up for a reminder email. 

 

Join the conversation. Join the movement towards a trusted Connected Web.

 

Judy Shapiro

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