Gruber on Mobile Phone Keyboards

Gruber, writing about what he calls the Apple Way (emphasis added):

Are software touchscreen keyboards good for everyone? Certainly not. But this is another aspect of the Apple Way. Apple tries to make things that many people love, not things that all people like. The key is that they’re not afraid of the staunch criticism, and often outright derision, that comes with breaking conventions.


That the iPhone — or specifically its software touchscreen keyboard — does not appeal to everyone is not a problem. Nothing appeals to everyone. Even if you try to make something that appeals to everyone by adding every single clamored-for feature, you wind up with something like Windows that does not appeal to people with a taste for the elegant and refined.

And so Apple demonstrate mastery of yet another classic showmanship tactic: know your audience.

10 Golden Rules of Social Media

A summary from Web Worker Daily’s 10 Golden Rules of Social Media:

1. Respect the Spirit of the ”˜Net: communication and connection to people and information.

2. Listen.

3. Add value. Before posting a message as a new participant in a forum, ask yourself: How is this providing value to the conversation? To the community?

4. Respond.

5. Do Good Things. This goes beyond adding value online. It means fundamentally changing your business model from a single bottom line — profit — to a triple bottom line — people, planet, profit — and then perpetuating this social responsibility to all you do in business, including online marketing and selling.

6. Share the Wealth. In social media, sharing is the fuel of the conversation engine.

7. Give Kudos. Social media works when you are generous. There is nothing wrong with self-promotion, but things really take off when you give others praise or a moment in the spotlight. The rise of retweeting — real retweeting, not spammy retweeting — shows how far giving credit to others can go in social spaces.

8. Don’t Spam.

9. Be Real. Authenticity is the secret ingredient behind any good and valuable social media marketing campaign.

10. Collaborate. Before you dive into social media for marketing and selling, take a look at who is out there and who is doing it well. How can you work with them, instead of trying to muscle your way into the space with all of your dollars?

The author of the article largely organized it to speak to larger commercial organizations, but the basic points are valuable advice for developing the identity any type of brand on the social Internet.

Check out the full article for a fuller take.

Schwarzenegger to Education: Learn From the RIAA's Mistakes

Arnie discussing the imperative to modernize the publishing infrastructure in California’s education system by moving to digital textbooks:

As the music and newspaper industries will attest, those who adapt quickly to changing consumer and business demands will thrive in our increasingly digital society and worldwide economy.

It’s one thing to hear the tech nerds of the internet speak of the RIAA’s clueless clamoring into the digital phase of the digital publishing landscape, but quite another to see such a high-profile politician so plainly paint the RIAA as a poster child embodying the inability to adapt to changing market realities.

I can’t help but speculate that this imperative takes aim at two birds with one stone. I find it difficult to imagine it to be mere coincidence that California-based Amazon dropped their Kindle DX — introduced with a marketing message explicitly speaking to its value proposition to text book publishers — with such an uncanny confluence of timing.

On Expectations

Comedian Louis C. K.’s piss-take at human behavior when our expectations are not met.

Although he amusingly paints the behavior of folks annoyed with unmet expectations with absurdity, his insights actually led me down a different path of reflection: the importance of the art of managing expectations.

Nearly any undesirable situation can be dealt with more gracefully, with the application of effective expectation management.

Emerging From Hype, It's Now Time for the Pre to Shake Out the Kinks

Thankfully, the Pre has been received with some great reviews, and it’s truly something that its team can be proud of. But now that the mysterious device is becoming available to the masses, the nitpicking will begin (which is actually a great thing, incidentally).

From Walt Mossberg’s review of the Palm Pre:

In fact, during my testing, one of my downloads from the App Catalog caused my Pre to crash disastrously — all my email, contacts and other data were wiped out, and the phone was unable to connect to the Sprint network or Wi-Fi. Palm conceded the catastrophe was due to problems it still has getting the App Catalog to work with the phone’s internal memory, and explained that this is one reason it hasn’t widely distributed the developer tools. [Emphasis added]

Now, in all fairness, the Pre is a brand new device whose software was written afresh, from the ground up. While this makes it very modern, its WebOS software stack has not as yet been run through any ringers, and it is most definitely a very complicated stack of software. As such, stories like this do not surprise me. In fact, I’m actually anticipating a number more to surface in the coming months. I do not say this disparagingly, by the way — it’s simply a very ambitious piece of kit that Palm are putting to market.

My greatest “doomsday scenario” fear for the Pre is that some disastrous bug in its immensely complex Synergy API is found that starts eating up or corrupting people’s address books all throughout the cloud.

O, Palm — my fingers are crossed that you’ll find (and patch!) any Synergy bugs before the rest of the world does.

And, by the way: congratulations!

The Habits of Effectively Exploiting Twitter

I’ve lately been involved in a number of conversations about the value proposition of Twitter as a publishing platform to anyone interested in developing a public persona for a company, an organization, or even one’s own career identity. What follows are ideas that have repeatedly surfaced during these conversations, as well as a handful of links I’ve been amassing from my reading, as well as links friends and colleagues have shared with me.

Some Terms

Throughout this post, for the purpose of simplicity, I will use the term brand to apply to all types of public personae, whether organization or personality.

I will also be speaking about a brand’s domain of interest, by which I intend to refer to the plurality of whatever industries and/or disciplinary fields that are relevant to the brand. I’ll use it in this singular form as a blanket concept, covering all topics of interest to the brand.

Finally, I’ll be using the term market to refer to any and all entities to whom a brand seeks (largely competitively) to offer a value proposition, and who interest — in whole or in part — in the brand’s domain of interest. In the case of a company, their market is naturally their customers, clients, etc. In the context of an organization, its market may be composed of the members it seeks to attract, or the community that it seeks to serve. Finally, a market for an individual’s own brand can consist of one’s prospective employers, clients, students, an educational institution, or grant or fellowship for which he or she may wish to apply.

Why Even Bother With Twitter?

Before I get into the any of the how, let’s invest a moment to get on the same page with respect to the why, since the means must be evaluated against whether or not they advance your efforts towards the desired ends.

This is material that’s been covered the world over around the Web, so I’ll keep this concise:

The goals are currency and reputability.

Currency here refers to the state of maintaining continuing familiarity with the ideas and topics relevant to the conversations presently taking place in the brand’s domain of interest. Currency helps a brand focus its efforts to remain relevant to its market, and is maintained by consuming incoming information.

Reputability refers to the brand’s reputation within the context of its market. Its measure exists only in the eyes of the brand’s prospective market, so it can only be built and developed with public action. On Twitter, this means publishing, or tweeting.

And so the value-proposition that participation in the Twittersphere offers a brand is that it can help the brand stay at the top of its game, and give the market a sense of the brand’s voice, relevance, and even competitive acumen.

But how can a brand engage with Twitter to realize these goals?

Read More

Exploring Google Wave as a Social-Enabled OpenDoc

In thinking about Google Wave since last week’s announcement—and thinking through its extendable document model (particularly its Gadgets API)—I began to realize that it reminded me of something I’d seen before; something from the past.

Then I realized what that something is: a modern re-imagination of Apple’s abandoned OpenDoc component software technology that has been social-enabled and lives in “the cloud.”

Read More

Sketching a Client API for RESTful Interactions

I’ve lately been exploring the value proposition of RESTful APIs to organizations whose technological infrastructures are built upon a collection of legacy software components, customized to communicate with each other by highly tailored middleware software stacks.

That exploration will not unfold in this post, however. It could easily be an entire book unto itself.

Rather, I would like to focus specifically on ideas I’ve had about what a high level object oriented API for interacting with RESTful services might look like, and funnel those thoughts into the design and implementation of a plugin I’m developing for the Symfony framework, called sfRESTClientPlugin.

Audience and Scope

This post assumes at least casual familiarity with Web development. I will explore some general principles of the RESTful interaction paradigm, but only to the extent to which they inform the design direction of the plugin’s API.

Although all the code samples will be in PHP, it is my hope that the exercise will yield material valuable to people working with other software stacks.

Read More

Homeless and Digital

The Wall Street Journal ran a story on 30 May, titled On the Street and On Facebook: The Homeless Stay Wired.

From the article:

Shelter attendants say the number of laptop-toting overnight visitors, while small, is growing. SF Homeless, a two-year-old Internet forum, has 140 members. It posts schedules for public-housing meetings and news from similar groups in New Mexico, Arizona and Connecticut. And it has a blog with online polls about shelter life.

The article didn’t link to the “SF Homeless” forum, but I did find this site, which is actually a wiki. If anyone can find the forum of which they speak, please leave a link in the comments.

Robert Livingston, 49, has carried his Asus netbook everywhere since losing his apartment in December. A meticulous man who spends some of his $59 monthly welfare check on haircuts, Mr. Livingston says he quit a security-guard job late last year, then couldn’t find another when the economy tanked.

When he realized he would be homeless, Mr. Livingston bought a sturdy backpack to store his gear, a padlock for his footlocker at the shelter and a $25 annual premium Flickr account to display the digital photos he takes.

It’s amazing to me that he sprung for the $25 Flickr account. I wonder what he’s photographing, and whether he’s doing something interesting with them; the article doesn’t say.

Livingston surprised me with a poignant perspective, sharing:

… his computer helps him feel more connected and human. “It’s frightening to be homeless,” he says. “When I’m on here, I’m equal to everybody else.”

The article is peppered with vignettes of various personalities from other members of the American homeless population, as well as social services professionals involved in providing Internet access and computer training in shelters, since many housing and job applications must be submitted online.

The Running Man Prophecy Scorecard

So after a false start a couple of nights ago, I’m finally getting to watching the 1987 Schwarzenegger classic, The Running Man, which I believe it fair to describe as a movie that foretold modern culture’s infatuation with so-called “Reality TV”. For those unfamiliar with it, the movie is basically Survivor meets ancient Roman gladiatorial event.

Credits on that one go specifically to Stephen King, who wrote the book upon which the movie was based.

I would simply like to add that — apart from predicting the whole “Reality TV” fad of our time 15 years in advance — the very first sentences of the movie’s opening titles happen to read:

By 2017 the world economy has collapsed. Food, natural resources, and oil are in short supply.

One dead-on prediction is enough, thank you.