Personal APIs and the Quantified Self

I'm doing a bunch of work at the minute that's tapping into Personal APIs and the Quantified Self. I've dipped into this stuff before, but that was a while ago and since then some really interesting things are being played out on the periphery.

One-To-Few Communication

There’s been a great deal of discussion recently about social network privacy, and in particular Facebook’s privacy settings since its F8 conference last month.

I’ve been more preoccupied with work recently and have only had the chance to keep up to date on what others have written about the subject, but there’s been a post rattling around in me for a while on this topic, and it’s gained more clarity through projects I’ve been working on. Whilst I won’t be going into any detail about the specific projects, I’m going to touch on some of the themes and trends that have been buzzing around in my day to day discussions and I hope it’s thought provoking. There are 3 trends I want to highlight:

Firstly, Mike Arauz wrote a great thought piece the other week on “One-to-Some” Communication, which I thoroughly recommend. The whole team over at Undercurrent continue to churn out some brilliant thinking and Mike’s post is just another great example.

Secondly, another theme that took off at roughly the same time was funding for a little known start-up called Diaspora over on KickStarter. Within a matter of days the 4 guys from Diaspora had been funded to the tune of $100,000 – great by anyone’s standards – It’s also worth noting (especially for the purpose of this post) that Mark Zuckerberg is one of the loudest voices for Diaspora and was one of the earliest investors. Lastly, was an interview Robert Scoble recorded with the guys from Wave Market. Here, the conversation centred around geo-fencing and location-based notifications, amongst many other topics. It’s well wroth a watch when you find the time.

What all 3 of the above trends are pointing to is a group of individuals within your social graph which naturally ebbs and flows based on the context (time & place), the topic and the interest of the content you are sharing. Such relationships can get complicated quickly, so it’s important to rationalise this thinking by starting small.

Maybe Google Me, Google’s worst kept secret is trying to solve this problem…

Some thoughts on sharing content

We’ve got a widget that needs some global share functionality added to it, so I got in touch with the company (Gigya) who’s helping us to do that. I went to their blog, which had some interesting insights and a ‘social bar’ at the bottom of the browser page. This is similar to the couple of examples I had in the deck I sent round the other day and could include any other number of social ‘connections’, such as QQ, RenRen, Orkut etc. I’ve heard rumors that Facebook will be launching their own in weeks.

In a nutshell, this and various other announcements, such as Facebook’s Social Plugins, bring into focus the idea that websites can now apply the latest open social technologies – like Facebook Connect, OAuth with Twitter, those provided by Yahoo, LinkedIn and more – to their own sites to drive traffic and highlight other social platforms where clients have a presence.

Re-dressing the balance
Most companies have learned to meet their customers on social networks, creating Facebook fan pages and Twitter pages, or integrating basic sharing, but only a few have made their own sites social in a way that truly takes advantage of the opportunity. Making the corporate site experience seamlessly connect to users’ social networks is the way things are moving. According to industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group, “In the future, consumers will be challenged to differentiate between corporate sites and social networks” because “destinations won’t matter, social context will”.

Many prominent publishers and retailers are buying traffic only to send it away to a social network. The next generation of social technologies – like Facebook’s Open Graph – differ from their predecessors. Facebook launched the changes on Wednesday with over 75 partners and partners are applying those technologies to their own sites to enable site visitors to help drive friends to those sites.

The various different social tools that Facebook and others have enabled can be collectively described as Friendcasting – Tools such as the ‘like’ button and Twitter’s @Anywhere solution enable customers to broadcast their comments to their 150 friends (the average number of friends/followers that social network users have these days).

5 best practices
There are 5 best practices for applying this “next generation” sharing (Friendcasting):

1. Keep users on your site
2. Build sharing into the activity flow
3. Use one single system for registration and sharing
4. Offer simultaneous sharing options
5. Track sharing results

Many of our clients still don’t fully appreciate how impactful social can be – it’s not the old packaged good mentality now. Technically – it’s more that there are many agencies and people involved, so “Keep it simple stupid” is best. For many clients, making the functionality different or flashy instead of keeping it as clear and simple as it should be will be a great challenge.

The movement towards openness
Microsoft will be launching its new Windows Live platform soon and with it a raft of new social features, including the first version of Office in the Cloud. Microsoft will be placing Friendcasting at the very centre of their launch, in the same way as they have shown in their recent partnership with Facebook,

These tools increase conversion on your own site because users can register in just a couple of clicks. Often, you’re not going to capture a full conversion upfront, but that doesn’t matter because you are getting permission to have a relationship.

The data that is provided varies by the platform and the visitor’s personal security settings, but Facebook now provides an email address if they have approved sharing it. Both demographic and psychographic data is often available. More will be offered as Google and Microsoft join in with their own social services for 3rd party websites.

More things to consider soon…

How my online consumption is changing

Time is finite and is becoming more valuable to me every day.

I’m finding myself using my handset (an iPhone) to keep up with news via my RSS feeds (which I’m still a big fan of) and for casually grazing on Twitter for interesting insights & articles.

I use Reeder 2.0 for reading blogs & Tweetie 2.0 for Twitter.

I’m a paid up member of Pinboard (I got in early when it was less than a $1) rather than delicious for a number of reasons, one of them being that anything I favourite on Twitter automatically gets picked up and stored on my Pinboard account for future reference. Additionally, I can store stuff on Pinboard as something to be read later or as public; All very nice features.

I have a posterous account, a Tumblr account and this blog.

I am beginning (admittedly slowly!) to separate my own personal thoughts to just this blog (hence the lack of updates since they generally take longer to write). Comments I want to make on an article, video or image that I read, watch or view to my posterous blog and a general ‘river of interesting things’ to my Tumblog.

I generally auto-post to Tumblr and Twitter from Posterous, but I’m still playing around with auto-posting in general and haven’t found a sweet spot. On that note I’m looking into which is like a cross between Twitterfeed and Yahoo Pipes on Steroids. It looks really cool, just haven’t had the opportunity to sit down with it properly yet.

I have added my starred items RSS feed from Google Reader to my Tumblr account. I tend to ‘star’ anything that looks interesting in my RSS feed, particularly when I’m on the underground and have no signal.

If I read something that I’d like to comment on, then Reeder gives me the option to email the article and I’ll email that to my posterous email address, creating a post there. Depending on what tags I associate with the email that post will auto-post the same article to both my Tumblr account & my blog here…keeping up? ;p

If there’s something I read while I’m out and about using Reeder I can do one of 3 things:

I can email it to my posterous account and it will auto-post it to my blog and Tumblr based on the email address I use. (For more on how posterous works have a look at the FAQ section on – It makes posting stuff really easy.)
I can star it and it will automatically appear in my Tumblog.
I can choose to Tweet it or send it to pinboard. Sending it directly to pinboard keeps it private, sending it via Twitter broadcasts it and then it gets picked up by pinboard and stored publically.

So that’s about it. I’m still tinkering, but I’m managing to keep on top of things mainly traveling to and from work. I’m still limited by not being able to work well off-line when I don’t have a signal, but I’m getting there and keeping my fingers crossed that it’s a feature of the upcoming iPhone 4.0.

My take on Google/Adobe partnership with Chrome/Flash

There’s been a lot of announcements (here and here) recently about the partnership between Google and Adobe in some supposed hardened stance against Apple.


Something I haven’t heard mention of though, is how strong a browser-based phone solution such a partnership could offer. Has anyone heard of Ribbit? I think an implementation of Ribbit and Google Voice would be interesting…I haven’t read it, but this Google Wireless Telecom Strategy report is bound to unearth some interesting info.

Personally this is big news and a bold move by Adobe and Google, bringing more weight to the Open Screen Project.

iPad UX design, articles, resources & insights

I’ve been talking through a number of potential iPad applications with people at work and I’m gathering a fairly useful and extensive list of articles and considerations around the iPad. I’m sharing that list here and I’ll be adding to it as I find more.

A summary of the iPad UX Guidelines
Video – Highlights of the iPad native app presentation given by Steve Job
Video – Highlights of the iWorks apps on the iPad
Images – Detailed Flickr gallery of iPad UI conventions including comments
Images – Detailed Flickr gallery of iPad UI interactions best viewed as Slideshows
iPad scrubber navigation considerations
Heightened physicality & realism considerations

iPad Application Design
Great presentation on iPad application design
Books in the Age of iPad

Design Templates (not for production, but good for starters):
iPad icon template
iPad GUI template
iPad Omnigraffle template

Nice iPhone app with built-in incentives. Genius concept. Check it Out.

Win Achievement Points For Every ‘To Do List” Task Completed On the Dunnit! iPhone App

The humble To Do list has been updated, with the Dunnit! iPhone app using gaming-style achievement points for every task completed. Sure beats scribbling on the back of an envelope I guess, though it’d be better if they translated into redeemable points.

Having some sort of incentive to tick off every task on the list would definitely make me more pro-active, especially if you could translate them into iTunes gift cards or something. Though at $4.99 a download, the developer Runloop would have to be raking in a lot of downloads for that to make financial sense.

Dunnit! lets you compete against friends who also use the iPhone app, and you can tweet your results to your followers—if you dare. [iTunes via Mobile-Ent]

This is a really nicely considered iPhone app. It does what it says on the tin and the achievement point-focused incentives is genius – kudos Dan, it’s wicked ;p

The iPhone Dunnit! App.

Go check out the app on the App Store.

Find out more about the development team here.

Posted via web from Rick’s posterous

Digital Democracy – some themes to look out for in UK General Election campaign

Many thanks to Albion London for putting on a cracking panel last Wednesday in Spitalfields for a discussion on Digital Democracy and the impending UK General Election. More info on the specific event can be found here, including a video with Alan Rusbridger’s insightful views on Us vs. Them and Open vs. Closed.

With the UK election getting into full swing, MPs have been scrambling over themselves to be interviewed by the MumsNet community. Both David ‘Call me Dave’ Cameron and Gordon ‘I’m Just about to Blow a Gasket’ Brown have courted the active and passionate community, but having heard from Justine Roberts, founder of MumsNet, I’m really not sure what kind of impact either of them made with that community. They’re doing what politicians have always done; look at stats/results, target a particular demographic of disenfranchised, sitting-on-the-fence voters and trying to woo them.

But is that it? Is the UK election really ‘The MumsNet Election’? The UK election isn’t going to be anything like the US Obama election, that much is clear. So far all we’ve heard are fluffy promises and the same old negative politics and fear; this time though such tactics are being amplified for all the wrong reasons by digital. It goes to prove that in this general election you have to say something meaningful.

Take for example the brilliant work of Clifford Singer’s spoof campaign posters over on
I’ve never studied economics before
We’ll airbrush anything.
Don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing.
This one’s still my favourite though (because it’s real and it’s online affecting offline ;p):
There have been 256,463 David Cameron posters created using the online poster generator courtesy of Andy Barefoot. Go and create your own.
There’s much more Clifford has to say on the experience in a blog post he’s written, Five Lessons from MyDavidCameron – Definitely worth a read.
And recently he’s announced he’s going to stop them now. The timing couldn’t be better. These spoofs have a certain shelf life and now that the Conservative’s have jumped on the bandwagon and created a nasty, bitter tasting version themselves, it’s all getting a bit ‘unappetitlich‘.
I think they have captured the public’s imagination because the posters themselves have been so devoid of anything meaningful; either in their message or in their substance.
Since Obama, what democracy has needed to be respected is meaningful action as opposed to political in-action which we’ve become used to. I wrote a couple of musings prior to the US Presidential campaign on what impact digital and social media would have on politics and yes, Obama’s campaign managed to create an incredible grassroots swelling on Facebook providing the largest donation pool in modern political campaigning – but social media isn’t just a route to raising more funds for a campaign – any brand worth their salt could tell you that by now! It also enables activism and cuts through the bullshit. Look at what’s happening right now with the threatened closure of BBC 6Music or the Robin Hood Tax campaign to give you an idea of the power social media has when it’s got a purpose.
Which brings me to my second theme of the UK General Election: Independent MPs.
Tasmin Omond, the Climate campaigner has announced she will be standing against Glenda Jackson in the newly formed borough of Hampstead &Kilburn, who Tasmin called “the laziest MP in London”.
She has now formed a political party, called The Commons, and is believed to have substantial financial backing from green campaigners.
Last week cryptic posters started appearing in the area, of a silhouette alongside the other candidates including Ms Jackson, Liberal Democrat Ed Fordham and Tory Chris Philp, proclaiming that the election race would include “not just the usual suspects”.
Ms Omond said: “Hampstead and Kilburn is a new constituency and we want to show people what a new MP can do. We’ve had enough of distant politicians droning on about broken Britain but doing very little.
“Labour and the Conservatives represent a type of politics that people are bored with. We want to remind people that politics is about choice. The other candidates are going after the dwindling older population in the area who still vote.

“We are going after the tens of thousands of young voters. If we get their vote, we will win by a landslide.”

Ms Omond said that if she wins the election, she will put a third of her salary into local projects selected by her constituents. She also vowed to do one day of community service each week and said she would ensure everyone in the constituency who is eligible to vote is registered by the end of her first period in office.

Ms Jackson, Labour MP for Hampstead and Highgate, last year repaid more than £8,000 in expenses she had wrongly claimed. Glenda Jackson has previously been shown to be one of the MPs who offers least value for money.

In 2007/2008, she claimed £136,793 in allowances despite turning up for only 27 per cent of votes and speaking in just two debates.

Ms Omond said: “The expenses scandal definitely influenced my decision to stand. People in the constituency I’ve spoken to are incredulous that Glenda Jackson would even bother standing in the election. She is the laziest MP in London.”

Ms Omond said the Climate Rush group would be “heavily involved” in her campaign: “We’re going to have people dressed as suffragettes going door-to-door offering to draught-proof houses and sort out insulation.

Should be interesting, if only as a side show…

Light Touch: Holographic Laser Projection is here

You want Light Graffiti, I’ll give you Light Graffiti

Incredible examples of creating Light Graffiti – love it!

Posted via email from rickwilliams’s posterous

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