Posts By Triston

Don’t Look Now, You Just Contracted On Twitter

For some of us, tweeting is more than just updating our friends as to what we put on our turkey sandwiches for lunch or how far we’re forced to walk from our cars to Starbucks.  Twitter is a powerful tool, and amongst other things, can be used as a medium for business negotiation.  And what else is more centric to business than contracts?

Most of us make contracts on a daily basis without even knowing it.  If that mooching friend of yours says, “Can I bum a cigarette, and I’ll get you back when I buy my next pack,” she’s making an offer.  If you give in once again to her moochiness, you just accepted her offer and made a contract.  It’s that easy.

In social media, many of the offers that are made, accepted or rejected are communicated by way of the tools we use so very often, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  Just because it involves a keyboard and Twitter, not pen and paper, does not mean that the deals you make aren’t valid.

So, as you probably know by now if you are reading this post, there are but three types of tweets: general tweets, tweets to others that can be seen by all, and direct messages visible only to parties between whom the messages are being exchanged.  I will briefly highlight how each of these forms can be construed as an offer or acceptance.

GENERAL TWEETS:

Generally speaking, a tweet that is directed to no one cannot be construed as an offer.  In contracts, there are basically three broad categories under which contracts fall: sale of goods, sale of property, and services.

While the ins and outs of how offers are made and accepted differ between these three categories, all you need to know is that there’s really only one way a general tweet to the world can be construed as an offer, and that is if you, in a clear, definite and explicit manner, leaving nothing open to further negotiation, make known your position to render service or exchange goods.  This is akin to an advertisement, which in most cases is not binding for the reasons stated previously.

If you tweet, “selling my unlocked iPhone 3Gs for cheap because #AT&T blows, DM me if interested,” you haven’t made an offer that someone can just accept, forever locking you into selling your iPhone.  You’ve merely advertised your intent to negotiate or barter.  However, if you were to say, “I have 1 iPhone 3GS new, still in original packaging, and I will sell for $99 U.S. to the first person who DMs me before 4pm” you have made an offer.  The first person to comply with that offer in accordance with your terms has rightfully accepted, and you can kiss your iPhone goodbye (at least legally).

Point is, you don’t really have to worry about your general tweets being construed as binding offers unless you are so clear that nothing would be left open to negotiation if someone complied with your terms.

TWEETS TO OTHERS/DIRECT MESSAGING:

This is where the bulk of your contracting is likely to take place.  Unlike general tweets, when you extend an offer to someone or a group of people specifically, your offer is significantly more viable, and can be taken more seriously by the person(s) to whom you extend your tweet.  We’re no longer in the realm of advertisements, kiddies.

Let’s say you notice that a fellow blogger or social media personality tweet that she really could use a hand improving her site design.  Proud of yourself for remembering that her tweet doesn’t constitute an offer, you reply “hey @_____, I like some of your design elements; check out some of my work (insert link to work).”

If all goes to plan, for argument’s sake let’s say she sends you a direct message saying, “Let’s talk shop…what would your rate be for the redesign?”  This, too, is not an offer.  It functions more as a price inquiry.  If you respond in a way that reflects your intent to render your services to her, perhaps saying, “I think I could do the whole project for $1,000 start to finish,” that IS an offer.

At this point, things get a little sticky with the law.  Though there are quite a few rules on the issue, unless you revoke the offer directly or indirectly, she then has the right to accept your offer.  The exact wording isn’t so important, so long as she makes clear her intent to reasonably accept your offer.  If she does, you have a contract.

If you’re thinking that you can play off your offer and her acceptance like it was meant to be a joke, or that you weren’t serious, think again: in the good old days, the “meeting of the minds,” or each party’s intent to contract mattered.  Today, the communications you exchange with her are as good as ink on the paper with signatures at the bottom, according to the objective theory of contracts.

The examples provided aren’t to be taken as God’s truth, and the only situation in which one might contract with another.  You could sell off 500 acres of land in the same manner, or trade a mold of Robert Plant’s unmentionables for an autographed poster of  Lady Gaga.  The courts won’t care how absurd you think the exchange might be.  What counts is that one person offers, the other accepts, and both parties offer a consideration (I give you the Robert Plant mold, you give me your signed poster).

With all that swirling around in your noggin, here are a couple quick things to keep in mind as you go about your lives on Twitter (or anywhere else for that matter):

1. A general tweet may usually not be construed as an offer; rather, it tends to function like an advertisement, unless the terms are so clear, definite and explicit that nothing is left open to negotiation.

2. Tweets are entirely viable means for communicating an intent to buy or sell goods or property, or render services; if an offer is made by one person, and accepted by another, then you probably have a legally binding contract that can be enforced.  If either of you breaches it, the non-breaching party has the right to file a suit against you.

3. Generally speaking, once a contract has been formed, if one of you wants out….tough luck.  Your unspoken intent won’t matter where there are actual expressions reflecting your intent to contract.

4. Contract law isn’t intended to stick it to the breaching party, meaning you aren’t going to get punitive (punishment) damages for someone breaching a contract.  But, in the case of our website designer above, if the offeree (person who may accept the offer) can demonstrate that the next highest bid for a job like that you would have done would cost $1800, the court might very well order you to pay the difference.

5. Do yourself a favor and act with integrity and character.  Nobody wants to endure a legal battle.  Don’t take negotiations in a joking manner, and honor your word.  Because unless you’re clinically crazy or under the age of 18, the court just might enforce that contract you didn’t take seriously, and then you’re out whatever damages you’ve caused to the person with whom you contracted…and a reputation.

Triston McIntyre is a former Uptown Uncorked associate, now studying law in Maryland. He may be popping in from time to time to share what he learns with us as relates to social media. You can find out more about him under the Company menu above.

Blackberry, Windows Mobile Join the Apps Store Fray

All you Blackberry and WinMo users out there that have been dejected, watching iPhone and G1 users download fun and practical applications from each phone’s respective application store, finally have something to smile about. This week’s big mobile news, at least thus far, has been the announcement of an application store for both Blackberry phones and Windows Mobile phones.

Why all the fuss? Well, obviously this means that a much larger number of handsets around the world will have mobile access to a wide selection of mobile applications. RIM and WinMo phones make up the vast majority of handsets in the corporate world, and although the corporate world doesn’t revolve on having a wide range of apps for various tasks, it does mean this: all those business users who, for whatever reason, haven’t adopted handsets like the iPhone that already have apps stores, they will now have the access to apps they will want to use in their personal time.

And aside from those users that have chosen to sport two phones, one for professional use and one for personal use, most folks prefer to pack only one phone on a day to day basis. So most folks will now be able to download mobile apps to whatever phone they’re tied to.

Again, for many of you, so what? Application stores mean that users have access to a wide array of social applications; beyond that, developers compete aggressively to produce the most intuitive and powerful applications every day, and to offer them at the best price points. Right now there are certainly aren’t enough applications for the most popular social platforms, but we’re going in the right direction. With the added stores for Blackberry and Windows Mobile, even more developers will be drawn to projects for mobile platforms. I can almost taste the quality to come.

Also, one of my biggest problems with the nature of mobile social networking to date was that social media really can’t be mobile until every phone is able to partake in the community. Until now, that wasn’t possible; when you rule out Blackberrys and Windows Mobile phones, you’re left with just a piece of the pie. Now we can at least say that we’re at the right staging point from which developers can now start working on truly intuitive cross-platform apps that allow everyone to connect, regardless of their carrier or handset.

This is big. Get excited.

Social Aggregator Skimmer Offers Power and Appeal

Today as I read through the top tech stories listed on Techmeme, I stumbled on a little nugget: an Adobe AIR social aggregator I hadn’t gotten my paws on yet! Called Skimmer, the AIR application aggregates users’ social streams from Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Bebo and Flickr into a a single continuous flow. And aside from a few stylistic complaints, I’m impressed.

The platform is attractive in its simplistic presentation. When scrolling through my stream on my Macbook Pro, the application reacted smoothly, and I’ve yet to experience any hiccups or delays in any functions. One of my biggest complaints with some AIR applications, such as Twitter platform Twhirl, is that they tend to be a little slow on the pick up and reaction time. No such issues here.

The platform allows you to work in a large-screen mode or in a “widget” mode, which shrinks down the feed to the bare necessities. Coming to my first issue with the platform, the smaller widget really isn’t what you’d call small. Though you can change the height of the window, the width is fixed. That wouldn’t be a big deal if the widget mode changed the size of each update displayed, but it doesn’t…and each update is sizable in display.

In fact, the whole platform, for all its clean simplicity, is a bit bulky in its presentation. There’s a lot of unused space that could be eliminated, making the platform more streamlined and aesthetically-appealing. For those of us with limited screen real estate, using every centimeter of space is crucial. Skimmer doesn’t have any skin or display options to change; if it did, I’d love it. But on a positive note, that’s my biggest gripe with the platform.

Moving right along, Skimmer allows users to update their various accounts from the platform…no suprise there. But unlike some platforms, where updating your status on a platform linked to multiple accounts doesn’t allow you to update each account differently, Skimmer lets you select which account to which your update will be posted. Or, if you like, you can post the same update to all accounts. Personally, my activity on Facebook is different than it is on Twitter or Youtube, so I like to update each individually, but to each his or her own. This feature earns a big check-plus from me.

Users can also filter their feeds easily, selecting which accounts they’d like to incorporate into their streams. Sometimes I just don’t care whether my friends are updating their Facebook profiles, or what they have to say. Uncheck Facebook from your stream directly the Skimmer application, and you’re set.

I particularly like that Skimmer renders pictures and videos uploaded to all the different services it supports right in the window. I won’t drop names, but I watched a particularly..unique..rendition of the Disney song “A Whole New World,” a YouTube post, right from Skimmer. If I’d had anything constructive to say, I could have commented on the video directly from Skimmer as well. Nice.

Continuing with more cool features, you can filter your stream down by keyword, friends, and platforms. Skimmer does display your friend avatars (or profile pictures, whichever you like), and next to the images are small little platform icons, indicating which platform the update is coming from.

I’ve just started using Skimmer, so I’m certainly not fully familiar with all of the platform’s features, but I will certainly continue using it. If you’re out there, nice folks at Skimmer, you’d have one very happy customer if you let me skin the thing or make the appearance a little less bulky. Pretty please?

UPDATE: Still, I guess Skimmer is really delivering on exactly what it claims to do. As far as viewing your social stream, the platform excels. But when it comes to communicating, such as sending messages on Twitter, the app is lacking. For instance, when I received a tweet from a friend, there was no indication that the entity in my feed was in any way different from the rest of the noise. Lucky I saw the tweet as it came in; otherwise, I would have had no clue that I’d been contacted.

Skimmer is just that. But, if the team over at Skimmer was to add in a bit of functionality that focuses on communication, such as differentiated postings so users can know when they’re being contacted, then we’d have a serious application on our hands. I think it is a contender against my partner Leslie’s preferred tool, Strands, or the tech crowd’s favorite, FriendFeed.

iPhone 3.0 Update Brings Proper Mobile Social Networking Closer

The iPhone’s next update, 3.0, was just unveiled yesterday.  For all of you that don’t own iPhones (which includes me), you might very well be wondering how I can connect the progress of a single phone to the advancement of mobile social networking as a whole.  I’m going to explain, so try to keep up.

Like it or not, the iPhone boasts the best platform and App store for mobile social media and networking.  A couple worthy mentions should go to Google’s G1, and maybe even Samsung for its latest batch of TouchWiz-equipped handsets.  

Working from that assumption, I’d point out that iPhone sales have soared recently, even considering the fact that AT&T, a carrier not known for its shining quality, is the only service that can claim the iPhone.  The mass adoption of the iPhone coupled with the success of the Apps store is making the iPhone the best platform for real mobile social networking to occur.

As I’ve said so many times before, there’s quite a ways to go before we reach true mobile social networking.  But, if you believe as I do that the iPhone will most likely be the platform to boast true mobile social networking, you’ll have to agree that a couple of updates announced yesterday certainly go a good way towards brining true mobile social networking closer.

First up: push notifications.  The iPhone (and iPod Touch) will now automatically receive application updates even if the app in question is not running.  You might be thinking, “Well, gee, why didn’t they already have that?”  A very good question.  

Now that apps can receive updates automatically (that is, without a user having to open each individual application, such as Mail, Twitterfon, Loopt, Facebook, MySpace, etc.), users will be alerted of updates to their different social accounts real-time.  Being aware is a huge tenet of social networking, and having your apps note updates displayed as they come in without having to update each app individually will help users streamline their online social activity.  

Second: maps access inside other apps, and turn-by-turn directions.  I consider both of these to be big steps towards advancing mobile social networking.  Loopt, perhaps the best mobile social networking aggregator app out there, allows users’ locations to be visible to other Loopt users on a map.  What better way to help users connect with each other on-the-go than to provide mapped, turn-by-turn directions to activities or your friends?

Let’s say you’re in the city.  Your friend updates her status on Facebook, raving about this band that’s about to play live in a venue across town from you.  You aren’t familiar with the quickest way to get there, so you open Loopt and use your current location and your friend’s location to generate turn-by-turn, GPS-rendered directions, which get you there before the second opening band comes on.

I can’t say as to whether the Loopt team has any designs on integrating the functionality I just described, but my point is the technology is there, and it is now possible.  Talk about a very real way to bridge your online social presence with your real world social life.  THAT is what mobile social networking is about.  

Third: data tethering.  Yes, that sounds quite lame in comparison to what I’ve detailed above, right?  Though I’m all about having everything you need in the palm of your hand, the fact is we just aren’t there yet.  Failing those advancements, there’s not much better than whipping out your Macbook wherever you are at and doing some surfing or social networking when you’re out of WiFi range.

 If mobile social networking still isn’t quite realized (and I’d say that it certainly isn’t), then why not use your familiar and powerful, computer-based social networking tools wherever you’re at by tethering your iPhone’s data to your laptop?  It’s social networking made mobile, is it not?  A bit cumbersome, but it fits the description.  

There you have it: three updates to the iPhone that will further the cause of mobile social networking.  

P.S. – If you weren’t aware, Loopt isn’t just limited to the iPhone…it’s available on the G1 and Blackberrys, just to name a couple prominent handsets.

Does Today’s Facebook Really Help Build Relationships?

Facebook has certainly come a long way since its baby days, hasn’t it?  As one of the first college students to adopt the social networking platform, I’m all smiles when Facebook rolls out new changes.  At the moment Facebook is promoting its upcoming home page changes which will allow users to post content directly from the main page, bypassing the need to jump to one’s own profile.  I’m all for it.

And the most recent set of changes, namely the “like” function along with the tabbed news feeds, have certainly taken the social networking site to a new level.  A recent study by The Economist, as relayed by Overstated.net, suggests that Facebook is helping users make and build relationships that might otherwise not be built and maintained without the site.  Certainly, there’s a comfort level with and value to “friending” someone on Facebook, and then communicating and building those relationships.  

But being able to “creep” friends of friends’ photos, send harmless messages to users you don’t know, and meet new people doesn’t necessarily mean you’re building real and lasting relationships.  In fact, in my own observations I’ve noticed that many college students are more than comfortable accepting or sending friend requests to common acquaintances for the purposes of staying hooked in to what’s happening in various social circles, but when it comes down to spending time together in public…well, it isn’t quite as fun and social as it is on Facebook.  

That isn’t to say that “social” relationships can’t translate to the real world.  Far from it, I know first hand that all variety of connections and relationships can turn into real relationships.  However, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say thatthe new tools of Facebook, which increase visibility, transparency and connectivity are directly causing real relationships to sprout up like dandelions.  

Also, it’s probably time to dispel notions that Facebook is somehow cutting in on the good times had by Twitter and FriendFeed.  Yes, Facebook has replicated some of the functionality and environment of each respective platform.  But when push comes to shove, I think most folks will readily admit that Facebook is a staple of their social networking, and more importantly, that it isn’t the same thing as using the other two platforms.  Facebook is also not stealing users from the other platforms.  Like it or not, most folks use Facebook, and if they use other platforms, they interact in different ways on each.  

Facebook can’t be Twitter, and it can’t be FriendFeed.  I like to think that cultivating an involvement in social networking leads users to adopt additional, different platforms to fit their individual styles and desires.  I’m skeptical of claims that users might be starting out on Twitter only to drop their accounts once they discover the holy grail that is Facebook.  

Make your friends and enjoy your social networks.  Just don’t go banking on some study which suggests that the ability to stalk some random person’s photos will make them your bff.

Will Facebook’s New Constitution Really Be Crafted by Users?

Facebook has been in quite the pickle recently, hasn’t it?  In trying to achieve transparency, it let users know about what was a technically small change in the legalese of the Terms of Service, and the uproar from privacy groups and FaceBook users was huge.  

Now we’re at a very interesting juncture in the future of the largest social networking site.  Facebook has reverted to its old Terms of Service and laid out drafts of what can most be likened to a constitution and a bill of rights.  One part is “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” and the other is “Facebook Principles.”  Both are available for viewing on “Town Halls,” which are groups set up for users to comment on the proposed changes.

The part that is particularly interesting, aside from the fact that Facebook is almost directly paralleling the two most important legal documents in America, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, is that the comments made in the Town Halls will essentially be considered “votes” for or against the changes, which, according to CNN, will be evaluated at the end of March, and will determine the direction the documents take.  So Facebook users have the unique opportunity to vote, or more accurately, weigh in on the direction Facebook changes.

Part two of the peculiarity of this decision is that Facebook is making a concerted effort to reformat the Terms of Service to eliminate legalese: in effect, make everything clear to users who don’t have law degrees.  That’s another attempt to gain transparency, and for that, I applaud Facebook.  Specifically I commend the attempt because, by eliminating legalese, Facebook is, to some degree, opening itself up to legal loopholes.  The legal system isn’t abandoning legalese just because Facebook does, and the new documents are vulnerable because they are legally vague.  But I still maintain that it is an olive branch of good faith to the user community that will do some good.

The degree to which user comments will actually affect the changes to both documents is yet to be seen.  Only a small fraction of the Facebook user community actually joined the Town Halls, numbered in the thousands, and from what I read, the feedback was far from reflective and constructive.  

There was a really good reason why Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison and a few select others were the only ones responsible for drafting the Constitution, and why the ratification was done largely in secret.  If we in America had to redraft a Constitution today, I doubt it would happen.  Imagine if every person were allowed to share their opinion, and their opinion had to be weighed!  Perhaps the whole situation will work itself out as it tends to in American politics: the few who are genuinely interested will weigh in, their opinions will be represented, and everyone else who didn’t care enough to contribute will bemoan the changes if the media tells them they should be upset.  

CNN notes that Facebook will be creating a sort of “user council,” which will participate in the decisions made by Facebook in the future.  Sounds a bit like Congress, doesn’t it?  No word yet as to who will be selected for the proposed council.  I’m hoping that the council will be much like the Senate is now….comprised of many members, none of which can directly control the future of Facebook.  I think it would be a mistake to make the council up of JUST leading internet personalities, such as leaders of privacy groups.  There should be an equal distribution of every day users to experts…if not a majority of Facebook versions of “Joe the Plumber.”  

Personally, I like the idea of copying the format of the American government.  Hopefully Facebook won’t get bloated with bureaucracy  and be split between council members looking to propagate their own agendas like our beloved Congress, but in theory, it could work.  The jury is still out as to whether the “votes” being cast will actually be weighed in the direction of the new documents.  Props to Facebook for taking a leap of faith in being transparent to its community.

Mobile Social Spreading, but Still Stunted

I just got my first iPod Touch, and suffice it to say that I’m officially hooked.  In fact, I’m more than hooked.  In less than 24 hours, I’ve effectively decided that lugging around a Blackberry Curve with the wonderful Touch is too much, and that I need an iPhone.  Leslie called the iPod Touch a gateway drug, and I couldn’t agree more.

Of course, now that I have an Apple Touch device, my first move was to jump on the Apps store and look for all the mobile social networking applications I could find.  I have to say, I was a little disappointed.  There just weren’t the plethora of applications I expected to find.

That isn’t to say I didn’t find some great tools.  First off, the Facebook app for the iPhone and iPod Touch is simply stunning.  It is far superior to its counterpart for Blackberry.  If I wasn’t already a Facebook junkie (and I was), I’m probably a lost cause, as it will now be fused to my hip in waking and sleeping.  

I also found a fantastic Twitter platform called TwitterFon, a FREE app that, in my opinion, bests any offering I’ve seen thus far either for mobile phones or computer platforms.  You’ll probably hear me harping on “free” for quite some time, as I’m sure there are many great mobile apps available for all mobile phones, but it seems some developers feel the need to charge for their creations.  I’m all for paying for apps that are well-developed, but there aren’t any trial opportunities for many apps that could be very good…in that sense, developers lose out because many won’t be willing to pay for something they’re not sure of, and consumers lose out because they’re more apt to stick with free apps than apps that might very well be superior. 

Also, I installed the Yelp! app to my iPod Touch.  Though it’s far from perfect, it’s a nice addition to anyone’s mobile device as it offers great search and localizing functionality for finding activities, restaurants and businesses in your area.  Today I searched for Starbucks, and found one 1.5 miles away; when I clicked “Google Maps” to get directions from my house, Google didn’t know the location existed.  Luckily I already knew where it was.  The point being, it isn’t perfect but it’s better than not having it.

And yet, I still find myself less than enthused with the current plight of mobile social networking.  Why?  Because, dear friends, the mobile social networking world is in serious need of multiple cross-platform social aggregators.  By cross-platform, I mean available with every major cellular carrier in the U.S, and by social aggregator, I mean a platform that ties in most of the best and most popular social networking and media sites like Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and others.  Though it’s all well and good to update each application separately, it just isn’t time effective to type out the same message for all your different services. 

I was surprised to find no evidence of a FriendFeed application for the iPhone/iPod Touch.  Though it isn’t my favorite computer-based aggregator, I think it would be a huge hit on mobile platforms. I’m familiar with what is currently the most widely-used aggregator for the iPhone, Blackberry, and other platforms — Loopt — but I find it lacking.

It does seem to be a perfectly fine social locator that integrates Facebook and Twitter, but if that’s it, there’s certainly a lot of room for improvement.  If you can use it, give it a try and see whether it fits your needs.  But it isn’t the be-all end-all to me.  

There are options, and mobile social networking has certainly come a long way from where it was even a couple years ago.  But competition between developers, and more so carriers, has effectively stunted the growth and restricted the adoption of universal mobile social networking.  For now, the best offerings seem to be available on the iPhone and the G1 (T-Mobile), and some of Samsung’s latest phones with the TouchWiz interface have some interesting (albeit limited) social applications.  For now, Facebook and Twitter seem to be the two big platforms, and your best bet is to find an app that suits your needs for each of those platforms.

Facebook Ties up Loose Contractual Ends and Everyone Cries Foul…Why?

Today the blogosphere is all a’tizzy about Facebook’s move to claim all rights, past and present, to user-uploaded content.  And perhaps the reaction is justified; didn’t we already deal with Facebook on the privacy front just a short while ago with the whole invasive advertising debacle?  

If you haven’t heard, Facebook updated its terms-of-service so that all user-generated content, be they photos, videos, links or annoying graffiti art, essentially belong to Facebook, not the creators.  Certainly, in theory it sounds ominous and invasive.  But at the nuts and bolts, it really isn’t in much different from the norm, whether we’re talking Facebook or any other social media or networking site.  

Aaron Brazell over at Technosailer.com concedes, “This is fundamentally not all that out of sorts from what most services do when licensing user content,” but then goes on to state that he’ll be advising others to abstain from uploading content to Facebook, perhaps only excluding links.  That sort of play-it-safe attitude might suffice, but it seems counterintuitive to the ideals and goals that many of us in the social media world share.  

The real question I think we should take time to answer before storming the castle with pitchforks and torches is this:  what does it change?  If Facebook is just now putting to paper what has been largely accepted by everyone until now, what’s all the hulabaloo for?  

Let’s say that Facebook used user content in the past without having the express rights written into the terms of service (which I’m sure has happened).  If the user in question wanted to fight it, they could take it to litigation, and they’d certainly have a case.  But I haven’t heard much from upset users bemoaning abuse of their content.  And the only reason we’re hearing anything now is because it seems like a huge privacy issue, when in fact it isn’t. 

Facebook is nailing up a loose end that could have been the source of endless grief, and one that could have been exploited by a savvy user looking to make a buck off the social networking behemoth.  Twitter user @Nazgul makes a very good point in saying, “Just wonder if wasn’t issue of ‘How do we keep from having to pull an ad just because it shows screenshot of a deleted user.'”  I would add, how do we keep from getting sued when the odd situation arises in which a user objects to having his or her content used?  Express terms in contracts save a lot of time and money.

The way I see it, if you want to use Facebook, you need to know up front that Facebook could use your content.  But I’d venture a guess that most folks aren’t reading the terms of service as it is.  It’s only the social media and internet privacy people sounding the warning siren.  

And while it’s our responsibility to make it unequivocally clear what will and won’t fly to the less-than-visionary Zuckerberg, I don’t think this is one of those battles that needs to be fought.  Furthermore, what kind of job would we be doing by discouraging people from uploading their content to Facebook?  Are we really saying, “Yes, Facebook is the biggest and most-used social network, and you should definitely participate in the interests of advancing social media and your own brand/image…but scrapbook your photos and have get-togethers in your homes to share your video content instead of uploading it.”  

We talk about clouding and cross-network integration, and how amazing it could be if we just got the support of the general public behind it.  I use my Blackberry to update my favorite social networks all at once, and  I’m not going to stop doing so simply because Facebook did what any good business would do and put pen to paper to protect itself.  And I certainly won’t be advising anyone to hole up in a bunker socially just because Facebook’s looking out for numero uno.

Your 2009 Tech and Media Outlook

2008 was a big year. An economic recession, presidential election and wild weather certainly made the year exciting; for tech and media, we saw the continued adoption of smartphones, the advent of online mobile application stores, the success of Twitter, and an increase in the use of social media tools by both young and old.

And 2009 should have a few big stories up its sleeve as well. There’s a lot coming, and hopefully most will be good. Here’s what I see happening…

Making sense of the space between Twitter and Friendfeed

Twitter and Friendfeed: two social micro-blogging platforms which people continue to compare and contrast, like both locked in a duel to death with one another. Recently, Dave Winer wrote a piece on the two platforms, likening them to the early computing platforms of Macs versus PCs. Dave suggests that Twitter is like the Mac platform: easy to use and adopt, but not as open or capable as a “PC” platform.

While I see the validity of this comparison, I’m forced to reflect on current trends in personal computing. While Windows might be a very open platform (arguably more open than OS X), the ease-of-use and attractive simplicity of Macs is winning over consumers every day. Similarly, though the iPhone has a rather closed GUI and platform, it is possibly the most popular smartphone on the market, even over competitors offering Windows or Linux-based operating systems boasting “open” operating systems.