Anticipating Paper

January 30th, 2014 | Facebook | Technology

Introducing Paper from Facebook on Vimeo.

I am very much anticipating Paper, by Facebook.

I’ve used several apps that almost got me there, and I’m currently using Feedly.

Can’t wait to see what they put out.

Image from

Most who follow the tech industry know that Google and Facebook are in the throes of mutual combat, but few seem to see the strategic reason that Google is so deathly afraid of Facebook.

Google is Google, right? They’re invincible! Who could possibly threaten them in search, right? Well, that’s missing the point. Google’s problem is that better search just isn’t enough anymore.

Remember what they’re fighting for

Recall that an Internet company’s currency is its number of active users. As that goes up a company becomes more powerful, and as it goes down it feels it–especially if they left for a competitor.

Well, Google is doing just fine there–everyone uses it constantly. It’s basically Internet infrastructure at this point. But many of those same people also use Facebook, and the key is that they’re being used in different ways. The nature of that difference is what has Google panicking.

In short, people use Google to find something and then return to what they were doing online. It’s a tool to help you achieve your Internet goal. Facebook, on the other hand, IS what they’re doing online. It’s not a tool, it’s a destination.

So–and here’s the crux of it–what happens when you can search the Internet from Facebook? Think about that. It’s Google’s absolute nightmare scenario.

Facebook as the center of the Internet ecosystem

Google’s problem is that people get online to go to Facebook anyway. Their friends and family are the core of their life, so it’s natural that it would be the center of their digital life as well.

So, why not have a big search bar at the top of Facebook? Want to buy something? Looking to go to a movie? Want to know who to vote for? Need a recipe? Whatever you need you will be able to get from Facebook soon–but with a difference: Facebook’s results will be customized for you with up to date information about your social circle as a context layer on the results.

When you search for books, you may get Amazon results, but included will be a list of your friends who also read the book, or are currently reading it. Want to chat with them real quick about it? Well it turns out Facebook is good at that.

Now apply that to everything–from going to a movie where you can see Rotten Tomatoes scores vs. what your friends rated it, to picking a car, or deciding where to live. You basically won’t have to leave Facebook, and you won’t want to because when you do the results you get back will be sterile in comparison.

Google becomes a one-trick search pony

In this future (which Facebook is working tirelessly to make a reality) it becomes annoying to use Google because you have to leave Facebook and then come back to it. Google becomes a necessary aggravation–a standalone, one-off search utility that sits completely out of band from your regular Internet experience.

That scares Google, and it should. This is the exact reason they came up with and forced Google+ upon us with such ferocity: they’re trying to build their own version of a place where people go just to hang out, where all your friends are…where you never want to leave. They tried to build themselves a Facebook, and they failed.

One way to think about this is to say that Facebook has the social/Internet destination and needs some search technology to top it off, while Google has great search technology but lacks the actual place people would want to spend extended periods of time. Stated more directly, Google is more or less screwed as soon as Facebook can achieve even 70% of Google’s search quality within Facebook itself.

So the next time you see Facebook add some new kind of “social search” functionality, and someone asks, “What the heck are they doing with that thing?”, you’ll know the answer:

Facebook is working to make Google completely irrelevant.

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 8.29.29 AM

I have a number of friends who actually post insightful ideas and comments on Facebook, and they do so semi-regularly. It’s an absolute waste of time and creative energy. If you’re actually writing anything you value, to any degree, and doing so consistently, you should be doing it on an actual blog–not on Facebook.

Here are a few reasons:

  1. Facebook is not easily visible. If you care about what you’re saying, why aren’t you saying it to more people?
  2. Facebook is ephemeral. Where are all your posts that you spent all that time on? All those comments? All those thoughts you had and took the time to capture? Gone, for the most part–or might as well be.
  3. It’s easy to set up a blog, and you don’t have to manage it. Use WordPress. Use Tumblr. They’re good platforms that allow you to export your content.

Quite simply: if it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying in a more visible and lasting medium. Stop wasting your time with a platform that basically claims ownership of everything you’ve created on it and reserves the right to discard it at will.

And don’t worry–you can connect your new blog to Facebook, so that your friends who don’t use anything else will still see your content.

Either way–make the choice: either stop dumping your time into Facebook where the content will ultimately be wasted, or fully commit to it and get on a real blogging platform.

I’m hoping you do the latter, and if you need any help let me know.

Google’s business strength was simply taken for granted; so much so that even deep-pocketed competitors like Yahoo and Microsoft stopped trying to outdo Google’s massive scale and core algorithmic know-how.

And that’s why I used to think that Google was unstoppable.

Until I realized one very important thing: despite the fact that Google goes to great lengths to keep its index fresh by indexing pages that often change every hour, or even every few minutes, and despite its efforts at realtime search (including searching the Twitter firehose), its dominant dataset is dead, while the Web is—each day more so than the last—vibrantly and energetically alive.

Indeed, Google’s revered and unparalleled dataset is increasingly dating itself as an ossified relic akin to the Dead Sea Scrolls—outshined by the freshness of the living, breathing organism that is the social Web.

Like dusty and determined archaeologists, Google’s massive bots crawl the Web looking for the artifacts of digital civilization. And what they find is fossils—in the form of pages and links: the leave-behinds of writers, contributors, and casual end-users who have deposited traces of themselves in the skinny crevices and dark recesses of the Internet. Google analyzes these remains, and yet it has almost no first-hand knowledge of any of the users who created this content—or those who are searching for it.

Enter Facebook.

Since its founding in 2004, Facebook has focused on enabling social connections, not on search. And yet, in the process, Facebook has created a platform that knows more than 600 million people, complete with identity, interests, and activities online. The company’s relentless and organic expansion—from an application to an emergent social operating system—has enabled it to know its users, not only on the domain, but also on other sites, as they travel throughout the Internet.

While Google has amassed an incredible database consisting of the fossilized linkages between most Web pages on the planet, Facebook possesses an asset that’s far more valuable—the realtime linkages between real people and the Web.

What does this mean, and what are the implications here?

Well, in a nutshell, Facebook has stored a treasure trove of distinctive data that, if fully utilized, could put Google out of business.

I don’t think this will happen, but I think it is possible.

Posted via email from | posterous

Because Facebook is clearly concerned with user privacy, it’s partnered up with crowdsourced reputation management service Web Of Trust today in order give its population of almost 700 million users protection from links deemed “risky” by the Web Of Trust community.

As of today, if a user clicks on a link with a poor Web of Trust reputation rating, they will see the above warning telling them that the link has been classified as abusive. And then they can either circumvent the link, learn more about the Web of Trust rating or continue browsing.

I am quite pleased with this news.

Posted via email from | posterous

Have you ever bought a Facebook ad? I have. I have talked to many, many people who have. We have spent hundreds, many have spent thousands or even more, experimenting with Facebook ads. They are worthless. Nobody ever looks at them, and nobody ever clicks on them. I just talked to someone who was trying to promote a book. He found it cost him over $100 in ads to sell one book. Moreover, as you increase your ad spending, people get used to the ads and just ignore them. So, your already low click-through rate plummets even further.

Interesting take.

Posted via email from | posterous


If you’ve messed with getting Facebook buttons on your site you know that there are a couple of ways to do it, but most of them involve using one of their various APIs.

My issue is that I’ve been working on optimizing my site, so I didn’t want to invoke any external scripts at all. So I did a few minutes of research and came up with a way to be able to submit to Facebook–just like their share button–using a single line of Javascript:

[ Sorry about the code above being an image; here's the code at pastie. ]

Basically, you’re just sending two parameters (u for url, and t for title) to a single url: ::

This afternoon Facebook saw the first improvement to its photo application thanks to its recent acquisition of Divvyshot: the addition of face detection to photos. Now when you upload photos to various areas of the site, including the homepage, you should be able to instantly tag your friends without clicking on them in the actual photo. Instead, the system will automatically detect faces in the photos and prompt you to select the friend who’s face it is.

Posted via email from | posterous

If you’re like me you don’t like getting unwanted email. The worst kind recently has come from the following scenario on Facebook:

  1. Someone you know says something mildly interesting on Facebook.
  2. You comment on it, not thinking much of it, and assume that it’s the last you’ll hear of it.
  3. You proceed to get 43 emails from Facebook telling you that Bob, Dick, Sally, and 40 people you’ve never heard of also commented on that same thing (which you now wish you hadn’t).

If Facebook was trying to devise a way to discourage people from participating, they hit the mark. Oh, and they give you a way to unsubscribe in each email, but that only works for that particular comment (and for me it didn’t work at all).

Anyway, here’s how to fix it.

  • Go to your profile and select “Account Settings”.


  • Select “Notifications”.


  • Go to the “Links” section and deselect “Comments after me in a link”.


That’s it. ::

this is not a picture related to boobs

What follows is my method of deciding who to friend on the three major social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Your method may differ; I get that. It’ll come off a bit pompous; I get that too.


Facebook for me is personal. I friend people on Facebook using the following criteria (at least one of these must be true):

  1. You are a close friend
  2. You are someone I’ve met a number of times (associate) who I would enjoy having numerous, long conversations with (hint: concepts vs. current events)
  3. You are someone I know of and have interacted with only a little, but you’re someone I’d enjoy having numerous, long conversations with

Who’s Not On This List

  • High school friends who I have nothing in common with
  • Celebrities of any sort who I have nothing in common with
  • People I know well but who don’t have anything in common with me (see long conversations)
  • Anyone who I wouldn’t trust to have a key to my house

Basically, the criteria is trustworthy people, who share interests with me, who I can enjoy long conversations with about things I find interesting. This matters because this is where I post personal stuff, like thinking of changing jobs, thinking of moving, rants about stupid people, religious and political humor, etc. It’s for close people only.

This results in me having around 100 friends, which is trimmed down from over three times that amount. Clean out your list; life is too short to miss important stuff from those you care about because it’s been squelched by those you don’t.


LinkedIn for me is professional. No surprise there. I friend people on LinkedIn based on the following criteria (at least one of these must be true):

  1. I’ve worked with you directly in the past, and the experience was positive
  2. I’ve dealt with you in the past, and the experience was positive
  3. I know your name, and know you’d be a valuable professional contact

Who’s Not On This List

  • People I’ve worked with, or dealt with, who I didn’t have a positive experience with (could be negative, or even just neutral)
  • Random people who send me invites

The goal here is to have a list of valuable contacts, not a list of people I’ve met or seen…ever…while in a work environment. That’s not useful to me.

Also, the upside of keeping your list properly groomed like this is that it’s not a problem to post things like Tripit updates because you’re not worried about someone on the list robbing you while you’re away. If you have that problem on LinkedIn then you’re doing it wrong.


Twitter for me is public. It’s a realtime stream of events from the public-facing personas of various entities. Friends, companies, whatever. I have simple criteria for who I follow on Twitter (at least one of these must be true):

  1. You’re a friend
  2. You’re family
  3. You’re an associate who posts interesting content
  4. You’re a company I enjoy hearing about
  5. You’re a personality I enjoy hearing from
  6. You’re informative

Who’s Not On This List

  • Boring people (yes, there is a different between entertaining mundane and just mundane)
  • People who tweet about the fact that they’re tweeting, i.e. they’re so into social media that they aren’t actually using the mediums to talk about life, but rather to talk about talking about it

Twitter is an information source. I follow people in two main groups: 1) those who are close to me (see the Facebook section), and 2) those who contribute input that I find either useful or entertaining.

From Public to Private, But Not the Other Way Around

So let’s summarize here: Facebook is private, LinkedIn is professional, and Twitter is public. Let’s capture that differently by saying you post things to Facebook that you can only tell your friends or family over dinner. You post things to LinkedIn that you wouldn’t mind on a resume, and you post things to Twitter that you wouldn’t mind being brought up…anywhere. Ever.

This illuminates an interesting model for cross-posting, which is the practice of sending content from one social network to another. The general rule I recommend is that you allow content to go from more public to more private, but not the other way around. So I send my Twitter content to Facebook, but I’d never send my Facebook content to Twitter. LinkedIn sits in the middle, so it could receive from Twitter but not from Facebook, while Facebook could pull from both of the others.


Your attention is the most precious of commodities. Adjust your networks accordingly, and don’t be afraid to be exclusive. ::

Disqus and Facebook

May 5th, 2009 | Facebook


So I just now enabled people to comment on my site via integration with their Facebook profile. This has been available for some time, and I even blogged about it.

I took this long to enable the functionailty due to abject stupidity. We’ll see how it goes. Oh, and I enabled all those other social integration points as well.

Keep up the good work, DISQUS. ::


For Facebook to be as big as it is, it seems like it’d be easier to answer the question that everyone is asking:

How do I get my content from other services, like Google Reader, Picasa, Delicious, etc. into Facebook?

Of course, there are a million apps for Facebook, and using them you can probably hack together a solution to get all your non-facebook content into your stream. But that’s a manual process, which is “meh” at best.

Turns out, there’s a Facebook-native way of doing it. Just go to your Facebook homepage, click on your Profile tab, and then on Settings under the Share button, as seen in the image below.


From there you can add quite a few services to your Facebook stream, which means when you add things to those services directly, that content will be displayed automatically within your Facebook page. Here are the services that I’m pulling natively into Facebook:


[ NOTE: To get your Twitter updates into Facebook, load this Facebook application, and enable the option that says: "Want Twitter to update your Facebook status? Click here!" ]

One word of caution: now that you are able to do this, prepare to be bombarded with questions from your friends like “How did you get x into your Facebook!?!”. Just point them here for now, and hopefully Facebook will do a better job at communicating this functionality in the future. ::


[ A Few Thoughts on Social Networking Tools | ]