The best comment on Twitter and architecture I’ve seen

It’s the comment left by Michael Kowalchik, aka “MikePK” in response to Matthew Ingram’s post about Twitter’s architecture (or the lack thereof). He’s the CTO of Grazr and makes an important point that every entrepreneur should read. So should every pundit who is giving Twitter crap about being down right now. It is the most important comment I’ve seen in weeks in another blog.

This one comment made me look at Grazr yet again. In the comment Mike seemed disappointed about why the market didn’t show up to enjoy his great architecture. Got me thinking about why Grazr doesn’t have many users and, therefore, doesn’t have Twitter’s scaling problems. Either way, read the comment that Michael left over on Ingram’s blog. The rest of this is just a rant, with a bonus rant about why FriendFeed isn’t going to be Twitter either.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Here’s why Grazr is no Twitter:

1. Grazr’s name sucks. I HATE HATE HATE “Flickr” copy names. Er, Web 2.0 names. It’s so hard to tell other people about things when you introduce misspellings into them. Here, what’s easier to tell someone else about “FriendFeed” or “Grazr.”
2. Grazr solves a problem normal people don’t have. I think Dare Obasanjo is right, too many companies are trying to solve a problem only the weirdos in society (like me) are having. I explained this on the Gillmor Gang on Friday: I’m a noise junkie. Only one out of 100,000,000 people will be like me. If you think you can build a business just on those weirdos like me or Mike Arrington or Louis Gray will ever use, then go for it. But you don’t need an enterprise-level architecture to keep the two of us happy. Look at Grazr: how many people have too many feeds or want access to more? Only a very small percentage. Who wants to tell their friends what they are eating for lunch? A whole lot more people.
3. Grazr’s UI is too confusing. Look at all the hottest services lately. They are simple, simple, simple. Easy to get into and easy to use. Way too much use of color, too. Why? Put this sucker in front of an eye tracking research project and you’ll see why: you don’t know where to look so your eye gets confused and when it does that the next thing that happens is I look for the “back” button to get the hell out of there.
4. Grazr has a focus on A-list blogs. Who wants to read those things? I’d rather read the blogs from my friends. Those A-list assh***s? I already see too much of them in other places.
5. Grazr’s language is cold. No personality. At least Twitter has the “Fail Whale” with lots of little birds. It has a personality. Grazr? Look at the terms they use for their categories. Business. Celebrity. Gaming. Health. Music. Yahh, yahhh, yahhh, boring!
6. Nothing is moving on Grazr’s home page. I’ve been staring at this for five minutes and nothing has moved. Compare to Twitter Vision — which is more inviting? I even refreshed and nothing on the home page changed. Now go to Twitter or FriendFeed or Jaiku or Pownce. Click on the “everyone” feeds on FriendFeed. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Do you see new stuff? I do. It makes me feel like something is happening on those services and that there’s tons of users. Oh, wait, there are.
7. Grazr has UI that looks like Microsoft’s Windows. Enough said. I know what they are trying to do, but look at FriendFeed’s widget on my blog. Does it look like Windows? No, it’s customized so it fits into my blog’s design.

But, go back to the comment that Michael left. That’s exactly true. I’d rather have Twitter with all of its scalability troubles than a perfect system without any users.

END GRAZR RANT, START FRIENDFEED RANT

That’s why we’re all staying with Twitter. Now, if someone can figure out how to build a perfect system AND get the users to move, then we’ll talk again. FriendFeed is close, but isn’t going to be it. Why? Four reasons:

1. No realtime yet. When I can participate in FriendFeed by using an instant messaging client like Google Talk, then we’ll have realtime. Right now it’s pseudo real time and not wholly satisfying.
2. No SMS compatibility. Can I post to FriendFeed and get messages out of FriendFeed via a cell phone’s SMS feature? Not yet. How many cell phones are being sold everyday? In China alone they are selling six million new ones a month! Now THAT is a market Dare Obasanjo could get excited about!
3. No ability to see a river of noise. Everything on FriendFeed gets reordered based on participation. I want to see just a strict reverse-chronological view.
4. Poor querying abilities. I can’t tell the search to just show me every item that has “n” likes. For instance, I want to see only the popular items sometimes. I can’t do that. Same with comments. I want to see only those items that have lots of community engagement. I can’t. Steve Gillmor asks for this feature another way: he loved Twitter’s track feature. I can’t do that in FriendFeed either.

Oh, well, I’m off on a FriendFeed rant. Enough of that. Thanks Michael for making me think in a different way. What a great comment.

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115 thoughts on “The best comment on Twitter and architecture I’ve seen

  1. The entire Twitter experience (up and down) simply highlights the importance of COMMUNITY over TECHNOLOGY. Tech creates the tools to simplify the building of and connecting with your community, but if the your community is not present the tech has little or no value. Whether you have 50, 500, or 5,000 folks you follow on Twitter, it is HARD to let go of them and attempt to reconnect with them elsewhere, thus we stay, and continue to play with one hand tied behind our collective backs…

    Perhaps this was different in the web 1.0 days when it took scores of developers and millions of dollars to build a functional web technology. Today, when one or two creative coders can build something really cool at home in their spare time, the technology has become more of a commodity, and it’s the community that drives the real value (in the eyes of the users). Of course the big challenge to Twitter and others is not just maintaining the technology, but figuring out how to turn the value the community creates for their users into value for their investors.

    So, the start-up challenge is to a) attract a community, b) have the technology in order to support that community, and c) have a viable business model to support the expense of a and b! But we all KNOW that… doing it is the hard part. 😉

    Like

  2. The entire Twitter experience (up and down) simply highlights the importance of COMMUNITY over TECHNOLOGY. Tech creates the tools to simplify the building of and connecting with your community, but if the your community is not present the tech has little or no value. Whether you have 50, 500, or 5,000 folks you follow on Twitter, it is HARD to let go of them and attempt to reconnect with them elsewhere, thus we stay, and continue to play with one hand tied behind our collective backs…

    Perhaps this was different in the web 1.0 days when it took scores of developers and millions of dollars to build a functional web technology. Today, when one or two creative coders can build something really cool at home in their spare time, the technology has become more of a commodity, and it’s the community that drives the real value (in the eyes of the users). Of course the big challenge to Twitter and others is not just maintaining the technology, but figuring out how to turn the value the community creates for their users into value for their investors.

    So, the start-up challenge is to a) attract a community, b) have the technology in order to support that community, and c) have a viable business model to support the expense of a and b! But we all KNOW that… doing it is the hard part. 😉

    Like

  3. The entire Twitter experience (up and down) simply highlights the importance of COMMUNITY over TECHNOLOGY. Tech creates the tools to simplify the building of and connecting with your community, but if the your community is not present the tech has little or no value. Whether you have 50, 500, or 5,000 folks you follow on Twitter, it is HARD to let go of them and attempt to reconnect with them elsewhere, thus we stay, and continue to play with one hand tied behind our collective backs…

    Perhaps this was different in the web 1.0 days when it took scores of developers and millions of dollars to build a functional web technology. Today, when one or two creative coders can build something really cool at home in their spare time, the technology has become more of a commodity, and it’s the community that drives the real value (in the eyes of the users). Of course the big challenge to Twitter and others is not just maintaining the technology, but figuring out how to turn the value the community creates for their users into value for their investors.

    So, the start-up challenge is to a) attract a community, b) have the technology in order to support that community, and c) have a viable business model to support the expense of a and b! But we all KNOW that… doing it is the hard part. 😉

    Like

  4. I agree w/ your friendfeed assessment. also, good job on keeping your posts succinct. So many bloggers don’t have either the skill, or even worse, the common sense do write a post that I can read quickly.

    Like

  5. I agree w/ your friendfeed assessment. also, good job on keeping your posts succinct. So many bloggers don’t have either the skill, or even worse, the common sense do write a post that I can read quickly.

    Like

  6. I agree w/ your friendfeed assessment. also, good job on keeping your posts succinct. So many bloggers don’t have either the skill, or even worse, the common sense do write a post that I can read quickly.

    Like

  7. What in the name of all that is holy is wrong with you? This post makes no sense.

    First, that comment is idiotic. He treats “having passionate users” and “having a rock solid architecture” as an either/or proposition and it’s not. I have no problem with Twitter getting out the door early to increase their chances of adoption, that’s not the point of criticism here. The point of criticism is the fact that they’ve been around for 2 years and received $20 million in funding and they still didn’t fix their architecture.

    Second, you say this is the “best comment” on the situation but then you spend a whole post refuting it. MikePK is suggesting that Grazr failed because they spent too many resources on their infrastructure. You then make a whole post on problems that Grazr has that have nothing to do with resources. You’re basically saying Grazr is a lame product idea and no amount of resources is going to fix that. A statement that refutes the comment you are quoting.

    Honestly…sorry to get so annoyed but sometimes I wonder what you’re thinking when you post these things.

    Like

  8. What in the name of all that is holy is wrong with you? This post makes no sense.

    First, that comment is idiotic. He treats “having passionate users” and “having a rock solid architecture” as an either/or proposition and it’s not. I have no problem with Twitter getting out the door early to increase their chances of adoption, that’s not the point of criticism here. The point of criticism is the fact that they’ve been around for 2 years and received $20 million in funding and they still didn’t fix their architecture.

    Second, you say this is the “best comment” on the situation but then you spend a whole post refuting it. MikePK is suggesting that Grazr failed because they spent too many resources on their infrastructure. You then make a whole post on problems that Grazr has that have nothing to do with resources. You’re basically saying Grazr is a lame product idea and no amount of resources is going to fix that. A statement that refutes the comment you are quoting.

    Honestly…sorry to get so annoyed but sometimes I wonder what you’re thinking when you post these things.

    Like

  9. What in the name of all that is holy is wrong with you? This post makes no sense.

    First, that comment is idiotic. He treats “having passionate users” and “having a rock solid architecture” as an either/or proposition and it’s not. I have no problem with Twitter getting out the door early to increase their chances of adoption, that’s not the point of criticism here. The point of criticism is the fact that they’ve been around for 2 years and received $20 million in funding and they still didn’t fix their architecture.

    Second, you say this is the “best comment” on the situation but then you spend a whole post refuting it. MikePK is suggesting that Grazr failed because they spent too many resources on their infrastructure. You then make a whole post on problems that Grazr has that have nothing to do with resources. You’re basically saying Grazr is a lame product idea and no amount of resources is going to fix that. A statement that refutes the comment you are quoting.

    Honestly…sorry to get so annoyed but sometimes I wonder what you’re thinking when you post these things.

    Like

  10. I’m with you on the usability problems. A GUIDED TOUR that has you watch VIDEOS to learn how to use the site?

    If the site is that difficult to use, there’s something wrong with your design.

    Like

  11. I’m with you on the usability problems. A GUIDED TOUR that has you watch VIDEOS to learn how to use the site?

    If the site is that difficult to use, there’s something wrong with your design.

    Like

  12. I’m with you on the usability problems. A GUIDED TOUR that has you watch VIDEOS to learn how to use the site?

    If the site is that difficult to use, there’s something wrong with your design.

    Like

  13. >He treats “having passionate users” and “having a rock solid architecture” as an either/or proposition and it’s not.

    I didn’t say it’s an either/or proposition, but for many small startups you have to choose where to focus your energies. On building something new that people take to, or building an architecture that can withstand every possible situation? Grazr’s CTO said he spent too much time focusing on the architecture and not enough building a service that people loved.

    My whole post was NOT a refutation of what he said, but rather a confirmation of it. It might “work” but it isn’t very useful and it isn’t going to attract users for a whole number of reasons.

    Like

  14. >He treats “having passionate users” and “having a rock solid architecture” as an either/or proposition and it’s not.

    I didn’t say it’s an either/or proposition, but for many small startups you have to choose where to focus your energies. On building something new that people take to, or building an architecture that can withstand every possible situation? Grazr’s CTO said he spent too much time focusing on the architecture and not enough building a service that people loved.

    My whole post was NOT a refutation of what he said, but rather a confirmation of it. It might “work” but it isn’t very useful and it isn’t going to attract users for a whole number of reasons.

    Like

  15. >He treats “having passionate users” and “having a rock solid architecture” as an either/or proposition and it’s not.

    I didn’t say it’s an either/or proposition, but for many small startups you have to choose where to focus your energies. On building something new that people take to, or building an architecture that can withstand every possible situation? Grazr’s CTO said he spent too much time focusing on the architecture and not enough building a service that people loved.

    My whole post was NOT a refutation of what he said, but rather a confirmation of it. It might “work” but it isn’t very useful and it isn’t going to attract users for a whole number of reasons.

    Like

  16. Robert, I know you love Twitter and think is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but just like Grazr solves a problem normal people don’t have, Twitter does too… I don’t use it, none of my friends use it, and a random sample of passersby on the street would reveal that the average person doesn’t have any idea at all what it is.

    Google, eBay, Amazon, PayPal – these are giants of the ‘net because they solve problems normal people have. The scale they have to deal with is unbelievable. Twitter has a much smaller user base, an echo chamber, really, and a much smaller scalability challenge. The only reason they can’t surmount it is that they’ve got such a horrible architecture, I mean really, who would ever think a site built with Ruby can scale?

    I do agree with your point about Grazr. Technical architecture is all very exciting, but it doesn’t matter if nobody uses the service.

    Like

  17. Robert, I know you love Twitter and think is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but just like Grazr solves a problem normal people don’t have, Twitter does too… I don’t use it, none of my friends use it, and a random sample of passersby on the street would reveal that the average person doesn’t have any idea at all what it is.

    Google, eBay, Amazon, PayPal – these are giants of the ‘net because they solve problems normal people have. The scale they have to deal with is unbelievable. Twitter has a much smaller user base, an echo chamber, really, and a much smaller scalability challenge. The only reason they can’t surmount it is that they’ve got such a horrible architecture, I mean really, who would ever think a site built with Ruby can scale?

    I do agree with your point about Grazr. Technical architecture is all very exciting, but it doesn’t matter if nobody uses the service.

    Like

  18. Robert, I know you love Twitter and think is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but just like Grazr solves a problem normal people don’t have, Twitter does too… I don’t use it, none of my friends use it, and a random sample of passersby on the street would reveal that the average person doesn’t have any idea at all what it is.

    Google, eBay, Amazon, PayPal – these are giants of the ‘net because they solve problems normal people have. The scale they have to deal with is unbelievable. Twitter has a much smaller user base, an echo chamber, really, and a much smaller scalability challenge. The only reason they can’t surmount it is that they’ve got such a horrible architecture, I mean really, who would ever think a site built with Ruby can scale?

    I do agree with your point about Grazr. Technical architecture is all very exciting, but it doesn’t matter if nobody uses the service.

    Like

  19. Ole: I’d agree with you. But Twitter reaches an audience many times larger than Grazr does. Twitter has about two million accounts already. Not too shaby and if you watch http://www.twittervision.com for a few minutes you’ll see a lot of people use it around the world for a lot of different things. It was also on a good growth path until it started being down every day.

    Like

  20. Ole: I’d agree with you. But Twitter reaches an audience many times larger than Grazr does. Twitter has about two million accounts already. Not too shaby and if you watch http://www.twittervision.com for a few minutes you’ll see a lot of people use it around the world for a lot of different things. It was also on a good growth path until it started being down every day.

    Like

  21. Ole: I’d agree with you. But Twitter reaches an audience many times larger than Grazr does. Twitter has about two million accounts already. Not too shaby and if you watch http://www.twittervision.com for a few minutes you’ll see a lot of people use it around the world for a lot of different things. It was also on a good growth path until it started being down every day.

    Like

  22. I’ve been watching TwitterVision for the last five minutes. Close to zero of the messages were interesting; most bordered on inane. (Example, from Australia: “burger king blows”. Which was commented on by several people, probably all watching TwitterVision too. Nice.)

    To my “echo chamber” point, I saw several messages with your name in them. There might be “millions” of accounts, but there must be a pretty small group of active users if you are such a common subject of discussion.

    Anyway whether Twitter is the next big thing or not, we agree on the main point, which is that they’ve reached a point where their downtime is hurting their growth. They got here by providing something useful, but they won’t get to the next level unless they stabilize.

    Like

  23. I’ve been watching TwitterVision for the last five minutes. Close to zero of the messages were interesting; most bordered on inane. (Example, from Australia: “burger king blows”. Which was commented on by several people, probably all watching TwitterVision too. Nice.)

    To my “echo chamber” point, I saw several messages with your name in them. There might be “millions” of accounts, but there must be a pretty small group of active users if you are such a common subject of discussion.

    Anyway whether Twitter is the next big thing or not, we agree on the main point, which is that they’ve reached a point where their downtime is hurting their growth. They got here by providing something useful, but they won’t get to the next level unless they stabilize.

    Like

  24. I’ve been watching TwitterVision for the last five minutes. Close to zero of the messages were interesting; most bordered on inane. (Example, from Australia: “burger king blows”. Which was commented on by several people, probably all watching TwitterVision too. Nice.)

    To my “echo chamber” point, I saw several messages with your name in them. There might be “millions” of accounts, but there must be a pretty small group of active users if you are such a common subject of discussion.

    Anyway whether Twitter is the next big thing or not, we agree on the main point, which is that they’ve reached a point where their downtime is hurting their growth. They got here by providing something useful, but they won’t get to the next level unless they stabilize.

    Like

  25. in one breath you lambaste grazr for targeting towards ppl like you, and then blame friendfeed for not having the features ppl like you want.

    hey that makes sense….

    Like

  26. in one breath you lambaste grazr for targeting towards ppl like you, and then blame friendfeed for not having the features ppl like you want.

    hey that makes sense….

    Like

  27. in one breath you lambaste grazr for targeting towards ppl like you, and then blame friendfeed for not having the features ppl like you want.

    hey that makes sense….

    Like

  28. Serves me right for taking the dog to the park and grilling dinner outside. I’m just now seeing all of this conversation. 🙂

    Robert, thanks for the feedback. I’ve written a post (and cross posted it to our corporate blog) in response. http://mikepk.com/?p=18

    Jeff: Yes I agree. As Technologists we look at things through the technology lens. Twitter is, to be honest, not that complicated a technology. What they do have is a community of passionate users.

    Tony: We have *a lot* of features. Too many. It’s something we’ve been thinking hard on. The videos were an attempt to make it clear what the workflow was supposed to be.

    Tom: I didn’t say it was an either or, but that it’s a balance. Twitter focused everything on having users, we focused too much on features and our scaling infrastructure. It’s a balance, one you have to deal with carefully with the limited amount of resources of a startup. What twitter has is the more important part of the equation (and in most ways a more difficult problem).

    keith: I think our real issue is we’ve been looking for the right people to target. We haven’t consciously been targeting A-listers or “weirdos” although it does happen to be the first example stream on the homepage (something we’ve noted and plan to change 🙂 ).

    Like

  29. Serves me right for taking the dog to the park and grilling dinner outside. I’m just now seeing all of this conversation. 🙂

    Robert, thanks for the feedback. I’ve written a post (and cross posted it to our corporate blog) in response. http://mikepk.com/?p=18

    Jeff: Yes I agree. As Technologists we look at things through the technology lens. Twitter is, to be honest, not that complicated a technology. What they do have is a community of passionate users.

    Tony: We have *a lot* of features. Too many. It’s something we’ve been thinking hard on. The videos were an attempt to make it clear what the workflow was supposed to be.

    Tom: I didn’t say it was an either or, but that it’s a balance. Twitter focused everything on having users, we focused too much on features and our scaling infrastructure. It’s a balance, one you have to deal with carefully with the limited amount of resources of a startup. What twitter has is the more important part of the equation (and in most ways a more difficult problem).

    keith: I think our real issue is we’ve been looking for the right people to target. We haven’t consciously been targeting A-listers or “weirdos” although it does happen to be the first example stream on the homepage (something we’ve noted and plan to change 🙂 ).

    Like

  30. Serves me right for taking the dog to the park and grilling dinner outside. I’m just now seeing all of this conversation. 🙂

    Robert, thanks for the feedback. I’ve written a post (and cross posted it to our corporate blog) in response. http://mikepk.com/?p=18

    Jeff: Yes I agree. As Technologists we look at things through the technology lens. Twitter is, to be honest, not that complicated a technology. What they do have is a community of passionate users.

    Tony: We have *a lot* of features. Too many. It’s something we’ve been thinking hard on. The videos were an attempt to make it clear what the workflow was supposed to be.

    Tom: I didn’t say it was an either or, but that it’s a balance. Twitter focused everything on having users, we focused too much on features and our scaling infrastructure. It’s a balance, one you have to deal with carefully with the limited amount of resources of a startup. What twitter has is the more important part of the equation (and in most ways a more difficult problem).

    keith: I think our real issue is we’ve been looking for the right people to target. We haven’t consciously been targeting A-listers or “weirdos” although it does happen to be the first example stream on the homepage (something we’ve noted and plan to change 🙂 ).

    Like

  31. I said>He treats “having passionate users” and “having a rock solid architecture” as an either/or proposition and it’s not.

    Scoble said>I didn’t say it’s an either/or proposition, but for many small startups you have to choose where to focus your energies. On building something new that people take to, or building an architecture that can withstand every possible situation? Grazr’s CTO said he spent too much time focusing on the architecture and not enough building a service that people loved.

    I Now Say>But see, that’s my point. more resources doesn’t make a better product if you’re completely on the wrong track. To say it does would be like saying running will get you to your destination faster when you’re headed in the complete opposite direction. The issues you outlined with Grazr wouldn’t be helped by more technical resources.

    Name – Technical Resources won’t help

    Solves a non-existant problem – Technical Resources won’t help

    Confusing UI – Technical Resources might help but people who make confusing interfaces tend to make them more confusing as they spend more time on them

    Focus on A-List Blogs – Technical Resources won’t help

    Cold Language– Technical Resources won’t help

    Nothing moving on Grazr – endemic of all of the above so Technical Resources won’t help

    So you see, you are refuting what he said. He’s saying he should have spent more resources on building a service that people love and less on scale and that, if he had, they’d be successful. Well your above points show he’s wrong and that isn’t the case. This in turn refutes his original point.

    More important, for me anyway, is why I feel you don’t see this which is that you are so engrained in your own philosophy (on scaling) that even when your own logic refutes it you can’t see that. He said something that “sounded” true to you so you think he’s right without subjecting it to scrutiny. When it is subjected to scrutiny it doesn’t hold up.

    Like

  32. I said>He treats “having passionate users” and “having a rock solid architecture” as an either/or proposition and it’s not.

    Scoble said>I didn’t say it’s an either/or proposition, but for many small startups you have to choose where to focus your energies. On building something new that people take to, or building an architecture that can withstand every possible situation? Grazr’s CTO said he spent too much time focusing on the architecture and not enough building a service that people loved.

    I Now Say>But see, that’s my point. more resources doesn’t make a better product if you’re completely on the wrong track. To say it does would be like saying running will get you to your destination faster when you’re headed in the complete opposite direction. The issues you outlined with Grazr wouldn’t be helped by more technical resources.

    Name – Technical Resources won’t help

    Solves a non-existant problem – Technical Resources won’t help

    Confusing UI – Technical Resources might help but people who make confusing interfaces tend to make them more confusing as they spend more time on them

    Focus on A-List Blogs – Technical Resources won’t help

    Cold Language– Technical Resources won’t help

    Nothing moving on Grazr – endemic of all of the above so Technical Resources won’t help

    So you see, you are refuting what he said. He’s saying he should have spent more resources on building a service that people love and less on scale and that, if he had, they’d be successful. Well your above points show he’s wrong and that isn’t the case. This in turn refutes his original point.

    More important, for me anyway, is why I feel you don’t see this which is that you are so engrained in your own philosophy (on scaling) that even when your own logic refutes it you can’t see that. He said something that “sounded” true to you so you think he’s right without subjecting it to scrutiny. When it is subjected to scrutiny it doesn’t hold up.

    Like

  33. I said>He treats “having passionate users” and “having a rock solid architecture” as an either/or proposition and it’s not.

    Scoble said>I didn’t say it’s an either/or proposition, but for many small startups you have to choose where to focus your energies. On building something new that people take to, or building an architecture that can withstand every possible situation? Grazr’s CTO said he spent too much time focusing on the architecture and not enough building a service that people loved.

    I Now Say>But see, that’s my point. more resources doesn’t make a better product if you’re completely on the wrong track. To say it does would be like saying running will get you to your destination faster when you’re headed in the complete opposite direction. The issues you outlined with Grazr wouldn’t be helped by more technical resources.

    Name – Technical Resources won’t help

    Solves a non-existant problem – Technical Resources won’t help

    Confusing UI – Technical Resources might help but people who make confusing interfaces tend to make them more confusing as they spend more time on them

    Focus on A-List Blogs – Technical Resources won’t help

    Cold Language– Technical Resources won’t help

    Nothing moving on Grazr – endemic of all of the above so Technical Resources won’t help

    So you see, you are refuting what he said. He’s saying he should have spent more resources on building a service that people love and less on scale and that, if he had, they’d be successful. Well your above points show he’s wrong and that isn’t the case. This in turn refutes his original point.

    More important, for me anyway, is why I feel you don’t see this which is that you are so engrained in your own philosophy (on scaling) that even when your own logic refutes it you can’t see that. He said something that “sounded” true to you so you think he’s right without subjecting it to scrutiny. When it is subjected to scrutiny it doesn’t hold up.

    Like

  34. Robert, I meant to ask you… Gillmore in that podcast kept saying that you are an investor in FriendFeed, which surprised me since you haven’t told us that here. But then he finally made it sound like you are an investor in time and passion and that he really didn’t mean money.

    So just to clear the air, you haven’t given them money, have you? Not that I would mind, it just seems not to conform to your usual openness, etc., unless I’ve missed a post somewhere.

    Like

  35. Robert, I meant to ask you… Gillmore in that podcast kept saying that you are an investor in FriendFeed, which surprised me since you haven’t told us that here. But then he finally made it sound like you are an investor in time and passion and that he really didn’t mean money.

    So just to clear the air, you haven’t given them money, have you? Not that I would mind, it just seems not to conform to your usual openness, etc., unless I’ve missed a post somewhere.

    Like

  36. Robert, I meant to ask you… Gillmore in that podcast kept saying that you are an investor in FriendFeed, which surprised me since you haven’t told us that here. But then he finally made it sound like you are an investor in time and passion and that he really didn’t mean money.

    So just to clear the air, you haven’t given them money, have you? Not that I would mind, it just seems not to conform to your usual openness, etc., unless I’ve missed a post somewhere.

    Like

  37. Tom: I’m confused what your point is, exactly. I never said it was an either/or, I said it was a balance, a balance of focus and energy. “Being on the wrong track” requires energy to explore the right track, it’s not something that occurs for free. There’s a myth that startups are formed from whole cloth with a plan and a path and execute and reach success… the truth is usually a lot muddier, exploring the space you begin in until you find the compelling problem/niche/technology that creates the passionate users. It’s still effort.

    As engineers we obsess over the hard technology problems (scaling) and can overlook other issues. Twitter has the passionate users already, I contend that’s actually a *harder* problem then building a scaling infrastructure.

    Like

  38. Tom: I’m confused what your point is, exactly. I never said it was an either/or, I said it was a balance, a balance of focus and energy. “Being on the wrong track” requires energy to explore the right track, it’s not something that occurs for free. There’s a myth that startups are formed from whole cloth with a plan and a path and execute and reach success… the truth is usually a lot muddier, exploring the space you begin in until you find the compelling problem/niche/technology that creates the passionate users. It’s still effort.

    As engineers we obsess over the hard technology problems (scaling) and can overlook other issues. Twitter has the passionate users already, I contend that’s actually a *harder* problem then building a scaling infrastructure.

    Like

  39. Tom: I’m confused what your point is, exactly. I never said it was an either/or, I said it was a balance, a balance of focus and energy. “Being on the wrong track” requires energy to explore the right track, it’s not something that occurs for free. There’s a myth that startups are formed from whole cloth with a plan and a path and execute and reach success… the truth is usually a lot muddier, exploring the space you begin in until you find the compelling problem/niche/technology that creates the passionate users. It’s still effort.

    As engineers we obsess over the hard technology problems (scaling) and can overlook other issues. Twitter has the passionate users already, I contend that’s actually a *harder* problem then building a scaling infrastructure.

    Like

  40. Scoble, do you get stock options every time you mention FriendFeed? 🙂

    As for MikePK’s comment, I couldn’t agree more. Too many startups spend way too much resources and effort in architecting a highly scalable system only to ask the question “Where are my users?”. This is a trap that technologist often falls into. Better technology does not equal successful startup. It always starts with simplicity and clear value proposition to the mainstream users. For every Twitter, there are probably hundreds, if not more, of highly scalable over-architected sites that went nowhere.

    Tip to Grazr, you already lost all your mainstream users with the term OPML as the first item for feed on your home page.

    Like

  41. Scoble, do you get stock options every time you mention FriendFeed? 🙂

    As for MikePK’s comment, I couldn’t agree more. Too many startups spend way too much resources and effort in architecting a highly scalable system only to ask the question “Where are my users?”. This is a trap that technologist often falls into. Better technology does not equal successful startup. It always starts with simplicity and clear value proposition to the mainstream users. For every Twitter, there are probably hundreds, if not more, of highly scalable over-architected sites that went nowhere.

    Tip to Grazr, you already lost all your mainstream users with the term OPML as the first item for feed on your home page.

    Like

  42. Scoble, do you get stock options every time you mention FriendFeed? 🙂

    As for MikePK’s comment, I couldn’t agree more. Too many startups spend way too much resources and effort in architecting a highly scalable system only to ask the question “Where are my users?”. This is a trap that technologist often falls into. Better technology does not equal successful startup. It always starts with simplicity and clear value proposition to the mainstream users. For every Twitter, there are probably hundreds, if not more, of highly scalable over-architected sites that went nowhere.

    Tip to Grazr, you already lost all your mainstream users with the term OPML as the first item for feed on your home page.

    Like

  43. Tom: if you are an entrepreneur and you only hire technical resources then you focused too much of your energy on one thing, when a business needs more than just a great technology to succeed. This is a resource problem. OK, maybe it’s not the CTO’s problem to solve, but it’s SOMEBODY’s job to solve, otherwise the company won’t get the attention, er, usage/customers, it deserves.

    Like

  44. Tom: if you are an entrepreneur and you only hire technical resources then you focused too much of your energy on one thing, when a business needs more than just a great technology to succeed. This is a resource problem. OK, maybe it’s not the CTO’s problem to solve, but it’s SOMEBODY’s job to solve, otherwise the company won’t get the attention, er, usage/customers, it deserves.

    Like

  45. Tom: if you are an entrepreneur and you only hire technical resources then you focused too much of your energy on one thing, when a business needs more than just a great technology to succeed. This is a resource problem. OK, maybe it’s not the CTO’s problem to solve, but it’s SOMEBODY’s job to solve, otherwise the company won’t get the attention, er, usage/customers, it deserves.

    Like

  46. Robert, I think 1st point and in part the second one too are going to be difficult for lifestreaming sites in general. The reason is that not that the lifestreaming site couldn’t have a Instant messaging interface (e.g. XMPP), it’s that getting this information for the source site (or network) is difficult.

    With RSS and Atom you can get this information quickly because of ping services which notify you when someone posts, if you are willing to get this information for everybody. Also Twitter provides access to it’s public timeline via XMPP. However with other sites you have to poll and they have limits of the number of requests so you can’t poll that often. If that wasn’t bad enough on some sites it takes quite a few requests to just find out what your friends are doing.

    I think in general the source sites’ APIs are not designed for this type of usage and the challenge for them will be to create some sort of push API.

    Not wanting to plug my own site too much but, in response to point 3, friendbinder.com has a “strict reverse-chronological view”. However we only opened up the private beta on Friday and it wasn’t designed for people like you (because as you say there are not many like you!) and I know currently it can’t support more than 1000 twitter users very well.

    Like

  47. Robert, I think 1st point and in part the second one too are going to be difficult for lifestreaming sites in general. The reason is that not that the lifestreaming site couldn’t have a Instant messaging interface (e.g. XMPP), it’s that getting this information for the source site (or network) is difficult.

    With RSS and Atom you can get this information quickly because of ping services which notify you when someone posts, if you are willing to get this information for everybody. Also Twitter provides access to it’s public timeline via XMPP. However with other sites you have to poll and they have limits of the number of requests so you can’t poll that often. If that wasn’t bad enough on some sites it takes quite a few requests to just find out what your friends are doing.

    I think in general the source sites’ APIs are not designed for this type of usage and the challenge for them will be to create some sort of push API.

    Not wanting to plug my own site too much but, in response to point 3, friendbinder.com has a “strict reverse-chronological view”. However we only opened up the private beta on Friday and it wasn’t designed for people like you (because as you say there are not many like you!) and I know currently it can’t support more than 1000 twitter users very well.

    Like

  48. Robert, I think 1st point and in part the second one too are going to be difficult for lifestreaming sites in general. The reason is that not that the lifestreaming site couldn’t have a Instant messaging interface (e.g. XMPP), it’s that getting this information for the source site (or network) is difficult.

    With RSS and Atom you can get this information quickly because of ping services which notify you when someone posts, if you are willing to get this information for everybody. Also Twitter provides access to it’s public timeline via XMPP. However with other sites you have to poll and they have limits of the number of requests so you can’t poll that often. If that wasn’t bad enough on some sites it takes quite a few requests to just find out what your friends are doing.

    I think in general the source sites’ APIs are not designed for this type of usage and the challenge for them will be to create some sort of push API.

    Not wanting to plug my own site too much but, in response to point 3, friendbinder.com has a “strict reverse-chronological view”. However we only opened up the private beta on Friday and it wasn’t designed for people like you (because as you say there are not many like you!) and I know currently it can’t support more than 1000 twitter users very well.

    Like

  49. Robert

    I don’t think anyone wants FriendFeed to be Twitter 2.0

    We want FriendFeed to be the best social media aggregation system. Which it already is.

    I think we all win (the users) if the best of breed services keep getting better at the one thing they do better than anyone else.

    Fred

    Like

  50. Robert

    I don’t think anyone wants FriendFeed to be Twitter 2.0

    We want FriendFeed to be the best social media aggregation system. Which it already is.

    I think we all win (the users) if the best of breed services keep getting better at the one thing they do better than anyone else.

    Fred

    Like

  51. Robert

    I don’t think anyone wants FriendFeed to be Twitter 2.0

    We want FriendFeed to be the best social media aggregation system. Which it already is.

    I think we all win (the users) if the best of breed services keep getting better at the one thing they do better than anyone else.

    Fred

    Like

  52. >I don’t think anyone wants FriendFeed to be Twitter 2.0.

    Oh, Steve Gillmor wants that! 🙂

    I agree that it’s the best social media aggregation system. It’s also the best conversation system on top of that aggregation. But, it could be so much more.

    It’s “how much more” that we’re arguing over here.

    Like

  53. >I don’t think anyone wants FriendFeed to be Twitter 2.0.

    Oh, Steve Gillmor wants that! 🙂

    I agree that it’s the best social media aggregation system. It’s also the best conversation system on top of that aggregation. But, it could be so much more.

    It’s “how much more” that we’re arguing over here.

    Like

  54. >I don’t think anyone wants FriendFeed to be Twitter 2.0.

    Oh, Steve Gillmor wants that! 🙂

    I agree that it’s the best social media aggregation system. It’s also the best conversation system on top of that aggregation. But, it could be so much more.

    It’s “how much more” that we’re arguing over here.

    Like

  55. There is a tyranny of the feature though you need to be careful of. We built so many features into Grazr that I can barely keep track of them all anymore. I’m constantly running into things, “we do that? oh yeah I forgot we built that feature”. You can build so many features that the character of the product changes and it becomes no longer accessible to the newcomer. It’s again one of those balances, between power users and first time experience.

    Part of the reason we built so many features was the hope that someone would find a subset of them unique and useful and we could allocate resources to better satisfy those individuals needs. The serious downside though is that if you’re not careful it can negatively impact your UI and usability. More importantly though it can negatively affect your message “what *are* you?”. That’s a question we struggle with.

    Friendfeed does have an advantage that they’ve waited for people to digest their current feature set before adding. I think one of our issues is that we steamrolled ahead a little too quickly in expanding the service. We’re actually considering stripping out a lot of the functionality to deliver a clearer message.

    Like

  56. There is a tyranny of the feature though you need to be careful of. We built so many features into Grazr that I can barely keep track of them all anymore. I’m constantly running into things, “we do that? oh yeah I forgot we built that feature”. You can build so many features that the character of the product changes and it becomes no longer accessible to the newcomer. It’s again one of those balances, between power users and first time experience.

    Part of the reason we built so many features was the hope that someone would find a subset of them unique and useful and we could allocate resources to better satisfy those individuals needs. The serious downside though is that if you’re not careful it can negatively impact your UI and usability. More importantly though it can negatively affect your message “what *are* you?”. That’s a question we struggle with.

    Friendfeed does have an advantage that they’ve waited for people to digest their current feature set before adding. I think one of our issues is that we steamrolled ahead a little too quickly in expanding the service. We’re actually considering stripping out a lot of the functionality to deliver a clearer message.

    Like

  57. There is a tyranny of the feature though you need to be careful of. We built so many features into Grazr that I can barely keep track of them all anymore. I’m constantly running into things, “we do that? oh yeah I forgot we built that feature”. You can build so many features that the character of the product changes and it becomes no longer accessible to the newcomer. It’s again one of those balances, between power users and first time experience.

    Part of the reason we built so many features was the hope that someone would find a subset of them unique and useful and we could allocate resources to better satisfy those individuals needs. The serious downside though is that if you’re not careful it can negatively impact your UI and usability. More importantly though it can negatively affect your message “what *are* you?”. That’s a question we struggle with.

    Friendfeed does have an advantage that they’ve waited for people to digest their current feature set before adding. I think one of our issues is that we steamrolled ahead a little too quickly in expanding the service. We’re actually considering stripping out a lot of the functionality to deliver a clearer message.

    Like

  58. @Scoble, I was half-kidding anyway but thanks for clarifying, good to know =)

    @mikepk, agreed, that’s another thing us technologist have to watch out for, unending feature creep. IMO, for Web 2.0 sites, it’s much better to get the features out earlier than later because users’ feedback will help drive the changes. Often times, we can’t predict what the users needs are and ended up all over the map with a plethora of features that aren’t needed if we wait too long to get it in front of them.

    Like you, I have learned that too many features confused the users and caused them to lose interests. Also, too many features can make the site seems like a horizontal play and that’s very hard (IMO) these days to build mass traction.

    Just my $0.02.

    Like

  59. @Scoble, I was half-kidding anyway but thanks for clarifying, good to know =)

    @mikepk, agreed, that’s another thing us technologist have to watch out for, unending feature creep. IMO, for Web 2.0 sites, it’s much better to get the features out earlier than later because users’ feedback will help drive the changes. Often times, we can’t predict what the users needs are and ended up all over the map with a plethora of features that aren’t needed if we wait too long to get it in front of them.

    Like you, I have learned that too many features confused the users and caused them to lose interests. Also, too many features can make the site seems like a horizontal play and that’s very hard (IMO) these days to build mass traction.

    Just my $0.02.

    Like

  60. @Scoble, I was half-kidding anyway but thanks for clarifying, good to know =)

    @mikepk, agreed, that’s another thing us technologist have to watch out for, unending feature creep. IMO, for Web 2.0 sites, it’s much better to get the features out earlier than later because users’ feedback will help drive the changes. Often times, we can’t predict what the users needs are and ended up all over the map with a plethora of features that aren’t needed if we wait too long to get it in front of them.

    Like you, I have learned that too many features confused the users and caused them to lose interests. Also, too many features can make the site seems like a horizontal play and that’s very hard (IMO) these days to build mass traction.

    Just my $0.02.

    Like

  61. ARHHGHG … Scoble slow the hell down. You are changing positions faster than a politician during a the heat of a campaign. My head is starting to hurt. I can´t keep up …

    Like

  62. ARHHGHG … Scoble slow the hell down. You are changing positions faster than a politician during a the heat of a campaign. My head is starting to hurt. I can´t keep up …

    Like

  63. ARHHGHG … Scoble slow the hell down. You are changing positions faster than a politician during a the heat of a campaign. My head is starting to hurt. I can´t keep up …

    Like

  64. Great post. Love the Grazr breakdown, and I wholeheartedly agree with your critique. Post of the week for sure.

    Like

  65. Well, you say that Grazr is solving a problem that normal people don’t have, which I think is basically true. But then you make an argument that FriendFeed won’t replace Twitter, citing a bunch of things that it lacks but that normal people don’t need. So I’m not really following this post, Robert.

    Like

  66. Well, you say that Grazr is solving a problem that normal people don’t have, which I think is basically true. But then you make an argument that FriendFeed won’t replace Twitter, citing a bunch of things that it lacks but that normal people don’t need. So I’m not really following this post, Robert.

    Like

  67. Well, you say that Grazr is solving a problem that normal people don’t have, which I think is basically true. But then you make an argument that FriendFeed won’t replace Twitter, citing a bunch of things that it lacks but that normal people don’t need. So I’m not really following this post, Robert.

    Like

  68. As an educator, I find Grazr extremely useful for delivering aggregated syndicated content in all manner of web based learning environments. Grazr is perfect for this purpose – one might even say indispensable.

    Like

  69. As an educator, I find Grazr extremely useful for delivering aggregated syndicated content in all manner of web based learning environments. Grazr is perfect for this purpose – one might even say indispensable.

    Like

  70. As an educator, I find Grazr extremely useful for delivering aggregated syndicated content in all manner of web based learning environments. Grazr is perfect for this purpose – one might even say indispensable.

    Like

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