Why I have faved 18,456 Tweets (why Twitter is dominant in tech industry)

In just the past year I’ve clicked to fave 18,456 Tweets. It’s a stunning number, if you think about it, and I don’t know of any other tech blogger who has done more faves.

What am I learning? Well, for one, there’s important stuff that gets written that doesn’t get on Techmeme. Yes, the important stuff does, like when a blogger for Gizmodo gets his house broken into by the cops. That’s big time on Techmeme, but page through my faves and you’ll find lots of other stuff that Techmeme doesn’t touch.

Even for things that get on Techmeme, I’ve seen that stories break first on Twitter. Gabe Rivera, the guy who runs Techmeme, told me he’s noticed that too and said he’s about to add some Tweets to Techmeme. It will be interesting to see what he does.

But I’ve come to realize that curating great tech tweets is one thing I love to do and one way I can add a lot of value to the tech industry.

Tonight my boss, Rob La Gesse, agreed and — in a redesign of my blog that he worked on — we added a widget that displays my latest favorite Tweets on my blog. The widget itself is worth talking about: it’s done by Publitweet which is helping lots of journalistic organizations use Twitter on their sites. You’ll notice that Publitweet’s widgets include sharing links for Twitter and Facebook and include pictures and expand links to have more info. I really love the new widgets and you’ll see me use more of them in the future.

So, why do I fave tweets?

1. Because I like rewarding those who take the time to teach me something.
2. Because no other tech blogger was doing this and I felt it’s important to watch the industry.
3. Because it is a fun game to find something interesting in Twitter before anyone else does (I regularly beat big bloggers to news).
4. Because doing all those favorites has built a database that others can study. For instance, Favstar.fm builds a list of everyone I’ve faved here. Do you know definitively who your favorite Twitterer is? I do and can prove it.
5. Because I hate “Follow Friday.” It’s really lame to say “follow @scobleizer” but it’s not lame to have a stream of hand-picked Tweets that everyone can check out and find someone new to follow.
6. Because my favorites are part of my content streams on FriendFeed and, now, on my blog here. It lets me get some value out of my reading time. Plus, over on FriendFeed I can search through all of them, something I can’t do anywhere else.
7. Now that there’s an audience of people who read my faves I find that I get thanks from people who get faved because they get more traffic. Even better, now people DM me when they think they have a great tech tweet that I shouldn’t miss.

Anyway, I hope you all get some value out of my Twitter favorites. Even if you didn’t, I’d still do them because they are useful to me and that’s all that really matters anyway.

Oh, and I have a Twitter list of my favorite 500 Twitterers. I always look at this list first in the morning. It’s amazing how true the old adage is that says “past results are the best predictor of future results.” In other words, it’s amazingly true that whoever brought me value yesterday will probably bring me value tomorrow. To me this list is gold and is reason enough to have clicked favorite on all those Tweets.

But that gets me to a bigger point: WHY IS TWITTER DOMINANT IN THE TECH INDUSTRY?

See, I watch Google Buzz more than almost any other tech blogger. Same over on Facebook. They simply don’t have anywhere close to the numbers and quality of status messages that Twitter does. At least if all you care about is geeky topics. For normal people Facebook is dominant, but for the tech industry? Well, Twitter is very dominant.

Why is that? I believe it’s the little features like Favorites and the clients like TweetDeck and Seesmic. I’ve walked into more than one tech company and been greeted by black screens with Tweetdeck on them. I see those scattered around my employer, Rackspace, too. It’s how we keep in touch with our customers and make sure we keep them all happy.

The tech industry is a sharing industry. That ethos came out of the user groups that I’ve often attended (I’ll be attending a new one next week in Tel Aviv, Israel, and one met yesterday here to share info on iPad development). By having everything in public view, we’ve made it easier to share. Easier to favorite. Easier to retweet. Easier to search.

That’s why Facebook is trying to push for a more public world. Twitter is already there.

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An inch closer to the end of privacy (thanks Facebook!)

Facebook LogoPandora logo

If the end of privacy is so evil, so awful, so unthinkable, then why am I liking the new Pandora so much?

See, in the past three days since Facebook announced major new changes to its social contract with all of us, I’ve been able to study my friends’ personal musical tastes in a way I couldn’t just four days ago.

Here, come on over to the new Pandora on my screen. I click on “Friends’ Music” and now let’s look through what I can see.

I see that Aaron Roe Fulkerson, MindTouch’s Inc founder and CEO, listened to Toad the Wet Sprocket. I bet he didn’t quite realize that I’d be able to see that a week ago.

I see that Adrian Otto, chief of research at the Rackspace Cloud (where I work at), listens to Kenny G. I bet he didn’t quite realize that I’d be able to see that a week ago. Aside: Kenny G, really dude? Heheh.

I see that Alan Cooper, father of Visual Basic, and head of a famous software design studio that bears his name, listens to the Barenaked Ladies. I bet he didn’t quite realize that I’d be able to see that a week ago.

Should I keep going? I have 1,300 friends over on Facebook and a lot of them use Pandora.

To me this is freaking awesome. I have found more music in the past week than I’ve found in the past year.

Oh, yeah, and you can see my own account and see how my musical tastes are changing thanks to this new feature.

But, on the other hand, this new feature has heralded a new age where we move closer to the end of privacy.

While listening to music that now is shared by all my friends I’ve been reading thousands of words about how Facebook screwed its contract with us to keep our stuff private.

Here’s one thread from DeWitt Clinton that talks about why he deleted his Facebook account. Here’s a story on Techcrunch about a bunch of Google employees leaving Facebook. And finally, here’s yet another thread, started by Louis Gray, about those employees leaving Facebook (in the comments there I lay out why Google’s employees made the wrong decision).

If you read those posts — and all the comments in them — you’ll see that there’s a lot of people who are very disappointed with Facebook’s moves pushing us all to be more public.

Personally I have not taken a good stance on this lately in public.

First, what has been my public stance? Privacy is dead.

Why did I take that stance? Because, personally, I’m bored with the discussion about privacy.

Why am I bored?

Because the people who are against having their previously-private stuff shared with the world (whether it was when Google Buzz shared my email connections that I made in Gmail with everyone, or it was when Facebook forced everyone to accept being public and to reconfigure their privacy settings and, in some cases, taking away a few ways to keep their stuff between them and their friends) don’t discuss is my Pandora example above. They don’t admit that there’s a lot of goodness that comes from pushing us to be more public with our lives.

The truth is I — as a user — get more features everytime the industry moves us toward a more public world.

Google did this when they put a cookie on my machine that nearly never expired. I remember employees at Microsoft thinking that that was a horrid move against their privacy (they knew that that meant that their surfing behavior could be studied by Google at a rate that Microsoft’s search engine wouldn’t be able to do because Microsoft had a stricter stance toward protection of privacy). I remember telling those employees to get over it and that soon our entire online lives would be shared and that Google would gain massive adoption because of the features that afforded it.

Google is NOT blameless here. They have moved us a long way toward a world where we have no privacy. Even Google’s CEO’s home address was shared with the world via Google. Today we are sharing that kind of data with each other all the time as we post stuff with geotags applied to it or check in on Foursquare or Gowalla.

But last week was about Facebook’s moves and Facebook pushed us another inch toward the cliff of no more privacy. Is that scary? Well, yes! But is it good too? Well, yes! Here, listen to my Pandora music again and tell me you don’t like being able to study my previously-private life in even more glorious detail.

The truth of the matter is that we are going to live our lives from now on — at least in part — in public and we need a new kind of privacy contract with the companies that use our data.

Tonight we started that discussion where I asked my Twitter followers what the last bastion of privacy is?

We ended up that the last bastion of privacy is control. I recorded an audio CinchCast to talk about that. Control of the ability to tell our life’s story.

http://www.cinchcast.com/cinchplayerext.swf

In that audio I told you that we are no longer in control of how our life’s story gets shared with others. For some, like me, we’ve crossed over to where we accept that loss of control. Others still hold onto the — in my view, mistaken — belief that they can control what others learn about them.

That is privacy: control of our human story. Last week Facebook took something we thought we had control of and gave it away. That pisses off a lot of people, but on the other hand, I gotta say I am loving my new Pandora music that that change brought to me.

And thus we have moved an inch closer to the end of privacy whether you like it or not.

So, now what?

1. We need new skills to deal with our new lack of privacy. How do we make sure Facebook doesn’t share what we don’t want shared? There’s lots of discussion on that around the web but we need more.
2. We need a more nuanced discussion about privacy. It’s not just about “never take my private stuff and make it public.” If it were, we wouldn’t have gotten the new Pandora features we just got last week.
3. We need more control over our data so that we can easily figure out what is going where. With Facebook it’s hard to figure that out now (I solved that by just making everything I do public, but others don’t want to live the same way I do).
4. What else? Add your thoughts to the conversation and what privacy means to you.

Talk to you later, I’m off to meet Thomas Hawk where we’ll walk around a car show in Half Moon Bay — in public — and take pictures. You’re welcome to join us. Bring your stash of great music. Oh, yeah, bring your iPhones! 🙂

Facebook’s ambition

Is this how the web looks to Facebook?

Ambition.

It’s the one word that kept coming up in conversations I had around the halls today at Facebook’s F8 event. Whenever I heard that word it was clear we were talking about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Compared to last week’s weak moves by Twitter, where its CEO barely even announced anything, yesterday’s moves by Facebook were huge.

OK, I heard another few words:

“Visionary.”

“Scary.”

“Huge.”

“Unbelieveable.”

“Blown away.”

“Zuck has balls.” or “Facebook has balls.”

“Big moves.”

Heck, listen to David Kirkpatrick, who worked for Fortune for more than 20 years and just finished a book, Facebook Effect, about Facebook. I catch up with him here before the press conference, which happened just after Zuckerberg and team made tons of announcements:

Listen to the words he uses: “This is not just another company, it is a transformational phenomenon.”

“It is really great, but it is really scary in some ways too.”

By the way, after I talk with David I talk with quite a few other movers and shakers in the tech press in that video so you can get a sense of how we all reacted to the news. Then, at about 20 minutes into that video you get to see the full press conference (I have the only video of it on the Web that I’ve seen so far).

Before I explain more about what I mean when I say Facebook wants to own your digital fingerprints, there are a few other reactions I want to get in here. The first is with a couple of guys from the National Hockey League. Listen to how excited they are about the new features they turned on yesterday on NHL.com. You can “like” every player there. Some players already have hundreds of likes in just the first few hours.

http://www.cinchcast.com/cinchplayerext.swf

Then watch how Pandora’s CTO, Tom Conrad, describes Facebook’s moves and how Pandora is now much more social because of these changes. “Mark is right when he says Web experiences want to be social.”

Finally, head over to Facebook’s official site and watch some of the videos if you haven’t seen them yet.

WHY IS THIS SO AMBITIOUS?

These moves are ambitious for a few reasons:

1. It gets Facebook plastered all over the web. Already Facebook likes are on many many sites and I’d expect to see Facebook’s new social features to show up on at least 30% of the web’s most popular sites within a month.
2. It lets us apply our social graph “fingerprint” to sites we visit. You do this by adding social plugins to your site, which is pretty easy to do.
3. It lets us apply our behavior “fingerprint” to sites we visit. Again, by adding social plugins onto your sites.
4. Facebook gets to study everything we touch now and will bring a much more complete stream back to the mother ship. This lets them build new analytics features for publishers, too, as All Facebook’s Nick O’Neill writes, but now Facebook will have the best data on the web for advertisers to study.
5. Facebook gets us to keep our profile data up to date. Marketer Ed Dale nailed why this is such a big deal.
6. Facebook gets to overlay a commerce system, called Credits, on top of all this. Justin Smith of Inside Facebook writes about that.
7. Facebook has opened up to enable all this stuff to flow back and forth and has removed the 24-hour limitation on storing data gained from its API. This is probably the biggest deal for developers, Inside Facebook writes about that, but they’ve also made their API more granular so that sites can ask for, and get, very specific data instead of getting everything stored on a user. We’ll be talking about this for a while, because it actually has good implications for privacy.
8. All this new data will enable Facebook to build new kinds of search experiences, as All Facebook hints at in a post where they say Facebook is trying to build a version fo the semantic web. Search Engine Land goes further in detail about what these changes will mean.
9. It lets Facebook minimize the need for a “public” fan page, like mine. Inside Facebook explains more in detail why this is true. Mostly because they’ll spit all those bits over onto my blog, if I add the code to my blog (which I’m pretty sure I will).
10. Finally a stream of focused bits for the people who are actually visiting your page can be pushed back out to you, as Inside Facebook demonstrates.
11. They made the API much simpler and shipped a powerful graph API so more developers can build apps for Facebook (this has been one of the advantages of Twitter, for instance, because Twitter’s API was simple to figure out). Heck, you can even hit it from a web browser to see what it returns. Here is what it returns for http://graph.facebook.com/scobleizer (if you want to try it yourself, just include your Facebook name instead of mine).

All this Web belongs to me

Is this all a deal with the devil, as RWW asks? Absolutely! Sebastien Provencher has another concern: that Facebook will gather data but not sure the goodies back (like analytics and monetization). GigaOm’s Liz Gannes notes that Facebook now is a single point of failure for the Web. Leo Laporte says he won’t use the new Facebook features on his sites. Dave Winer goes even further and says that the answer to all this must be “no.”

These are legitimate concerns. Let’s explore why:

Let’s key in on #2: your social graph — the people connected to you in various ways — is a fingerprint. My social graph is different than yours. So, when I click “like” on a hockey player on NHL, I’ve applied my fingerprint to that hockey player. Now what if 1,000 other people do that? That site really has a lot of details about the average user that’s visiting: details they never would have had access to before. But that’s not what’s scary. What’s scary is the traffic boost that these sites will get. Why? Because those 1,000 people will drag all their friends over. Actually, no, that’s not scary either.

What we’re really scared about is another very powerful company is forming. One that we don’t yet fully trust. Heck, just a few years ago Facebook erased me from the web for 24 hours. I can’t forget that, even though now I’m good friends with most of the Facebook execs. Let’s say Facebook wanted to kick you off the system, it could, and that could have deep implications for your business, career, etc.

Now go further, we’re all going to be very addicted to Facebook’s new features very quickly. The website that doesn’t have Facebook “likes” on it will seem weird in a few months. In a few years? Almost every site, I predict, will have them, and the other components that you can check out above (and more that will come soon, both from Facebook as well as other developers).

My fears are that Facebook might turn evil and use its position against organizations, the way that Apple locks out organizations from shipping apps (do you have Google Voice app on your iPhone yet? I don’t). Imagine if Facebook wanted to turn off the New York Times, for instance. It could. And that’s a LOT of power to give to one organization, even one that’s earned my trust like Facebook has. This is why I keep hoping Google has a clue (so far it hasn’t).

Tomorrow during the Gillmor Gang I’ll try to talk about the identity fingerprints that Facebook now has under its control. It is a scary world, but one that has huge benefits to all of us.

Today I told someone like I felt like I was at the completion of a major piece of commerce infrastructure that would affect our lives for decades. I likened it to the cross-continental railroad. Remember that? Well it changed the world. It opened the west. Made new careers possible. Let fresh food from California get to Chicago before it spoiled and all that. But it created an organization that had a LOT of power that wasn’t always used well.

Today I told Zuckerberg that he now has the modern-day railroad in his grasp and challenged him to both win our trust and not abuse the major power he’s going to aggregate.

So far I’m hearing all the right things from him and the employees around him. They know that this is a major, ambitious, move and they are going to move carefully and deliberately from here. They better or else we’ll see regulators move into control this business like we’ve never seen in our industry. One CEO, who asked not to be named, told me in the hallways today that Facebook is now a utility that the industry is going to rely on and he noted that utilities usually are heavily regulated to make sure that they don’t abuse the power they have over people and businesses.

The moves Facebook made today ARE that significant. Don’t miss Facebook’s ambition.

Oh, and if you’d like to hear more later today we’ll do a special Gillmor Gang and we’ll have Bret Taylor of Facebook on to fill in more details at noon Pacific Time. Watch building43 live then.