That’s a big number, especially when you consider that most people think of LinkedIn as the “boring” social network. They’re not wrong. When I teach a class on social networking, I include LinkedIn. But I also stress that it’s very professional, unlike Facebook, and that most people aren’t posting status updates about their cat on LinkedIn.
Where are these 50 million connections? According Jeff Weiner on the LinkedIn blog,
LinkedIn has been global since inception — about half of our total membership is international. There are now 11 million users in Europe alone. India is currently our fastest-growing country with almost 3 million users, while the Netherlands has the highest rate of adoption per capita outside the U.S., at 30%.
I bet that’s not surprising to you. It’s certainly not to me. Personally, I use LinkedIn to track potential jobs and clients, as well as research potential jobs and clients. You can learn a lot about a company based on who used to work there. Additionally, I try to answer several Questions on their Q&A pages on a regular basis. It never hurts to be known as an expert in something. I list it on my business cards as well – it’s an instant resume where I control the amount of information that’s viewable. LinkedIn is, in my opinion, sort of like Old Reliable. It doesn’t frighten social media newbies (and yes, they’re out there) as much as Facebook and I can trust that it will probably be around for a while.
Do you still use LinkedIn or do you find it has outlasted it’s usefulness?
“If you take a user who’s used to a 14- or 15-inch notebook and you say ‘Here’s a 10-inch netbook,’ they’re gonna say ‘Hey, this is so fantastic. It’s so cute. It’s so light. I love it,’” Dell told Silicon Valley’s tech-obsessed Churchill Club during an appearance Tuesday night. “But about 36 hours later, they’re saying ‘The screen’s gonna have to go. Give me my 15-inch screen back.’”
Right. I’ve had my netbook for exactly a week, which is longer than 36 hours, and I beg to differ. The only thing I dislike about my Dell Mini 10v is the trackpad, and that’s easily fixed with a tiny wireless mouse.
First off, I can’t imagine marketing these little machines as primary machines. If that’s been Dell’s strategy, then they’re nuts. These are not good primary machines unless you a) need very little computing power and b) intend to hook it up to an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard.
Now, Michael Dell does mention that these are good as secondary machines, and that is indeed how they should be marketed. If I know I’ve got an hour between appointments, I’ll make sure to grab my Mini on the way out the door to spend working wherever I can find some Wi-Fi. When I travel (and it does seem to be my Year of the Suitcase), I intend to take only the Mini. It’s a huge weight difference from my 15-inch Macbook Pro and much, much easier for me to deal with in my carry-on. I chose the 10v over the 10 because the “low-end” 10v has a VGA port, making it my primary machine for the countless PowerPoint presentations I give. It’s just easy to deal with on so many levels.
Is it my primary machine? Of course not. The trackpad is a pain and it’s got a 10-inch screen. I’m not crazy. But while I was killing time in the salon while my hair color baked onto my head, I was able to get a little work done on the Mini I pulled out of my purse. When I’m in my family room watching a movie and I need a quick answer from IMDB, the Mini is a lot easier to deal with than my large Mac.
So, Michael Dell, I respectfully disagree with you. I love my Mini, but I love it for all the reasons it should be used, and not the reasons it shouldn’t.
All sorts of announcements came out today, the gist of which is that Google Voice is coming to a phone near you.
We’ll start with perhaps the biggest news. Mashable is reporting that AT&T is confirming it has “taken the steps necessary so that Apple can enable VoIP applications on iPhone to run on AT&T’s wireless network. Previously, VoIP applications on iPhone were enabled for Wi-Fi connectivity.” What that means is, if Apple approves it, the network is ready to run Google Voice on the iPhone (as well as Skype and other VOIP-enabled apps). Rumors abound that AT&T might make an official announcement at CITA, which starts tomorrow in San Diego.
Verizon isn’t far behind, and I suspect this is a little of what pushed AT&T into their confirmation today. Google and Verizon recently announced a partnership for Verizon to carry Android-based (Google) phones. The first one, the supposedly named Tao, is rumored to be released at the end of this month. (I can tell you right now that I’m buying that phone.)
Today, Lowell McAdams, Verizon Wireless’s CEO, stated that the first two Google phones will be available this year and that they will include Google Voice. According to the Wall Street Journal, Eric Schmidt of Google had a great quote:
Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, hailed Verizon’s data network and scale and said that the carrier’s openness “was, frankly, enormously surprising, given the history and the old-line nature of telcos.”
I admit it. I’m old fashioned. That may seem a silly statement coming from someone as deeply steeped in the digital realm as I, but when it comes to certain things this Silicon Valley geek likes to roll old school. I believe in charcoal barbecues. I believe in hand-writing thank you notes. I believe that white shoes have no business being worn after Labor Day. Most of all though, and to the great amusement of many I know, I believe in daily newspapers.
So when someone started to steal my New York Times off the front step of my building, I did what any self-respecting social media person would do. I launched an aggressive effort to catch the SOB, and began to chronicle my efforts in streaming video.
After a couple of weeks of on and off success in at least getting my paper but failing to snare the culprit I escalated my efforts, as I explain in this video:
Day after day I arose far earlier than my non-morning person self cared to, and I waited. Through the process I got to know many neighbors – those in my building as well as various and sundry folks whose morning schedules took them past my stakeout perch. I realized that every morning more than a half dozen newspapers landed on the step of my building alone. I saw similar stacks of newsprint on other stoops. I saw myriad people walking dogs and striding purposefully towards bus stops – many of them also with broadsheets in hand.
When it came to that daily paper fix, clearly I wasn’t alone.
Then there were my online comrades. Besides the amusement several people seemed to get from my daily commentary, I found a growing chorus of support from folks on Twitter and Facebook. People shared my self-righteous indignation at the theft. That surprised me less than the passionate support that many shared for getting that daily slab of printed paper to complement their morning coffee. Most people felt I should just set up a streaming web cam and save myself the burden of getting up so darn early. Others suggested setting a booby trap for the culprit. Still others offered to come and sit in shifts to help me snare the thief. Then came a note from Chris O’Brien, a friend and long-time Journalist who writes for the San Jose Mercury News. His suggestion? My videos would make a great ad campaign for the newspaper industry.
Some might say that an ad campaign for the newspaper industry would be a waste of time. After all, why waste effort for an industry that, according to statistics, is on the decline? Seeing Chris’ name in my comment stream, however, reminded me that in addition to his being a dyed-in-the-wool member of the Fourth Estate, he had an up-close-and-personal perspective that maybe, just maybe things weren’t so bleak after all.
After a bit of calendar choreography, Chris and I managed to settle in for a phone chat one afternoon last week. Over the course of about a half hour, we wended our way through a discussion from which I gleaned several key points:
1) Newsprint may be black and white but the media business isn’t – While people tend to lean towards a twofold viewpoint (the world was this way, now it’s that way; people used to do things this way, now people do things another way), the truth is that the advent of new forms of media have yet to wholly kill previous forms. Television didn’t kill radio. The VCR didn’t kill the movies. Okay so maybe the Internet struck a near fatal blow to the music industry, but even in that case, things continue to evolve. In Chris’ words, “People want to get into a binary debate that we used to just all want (the newspaper) because we had no choice and now people want the raw feed to mix up their own news. From where I sit what’s really happening is that people have splintered in a lot of different directions. You still have people who value the gatekeeper/passive experience at one end and then you have (people on the other end) who just want the raw feed of all data washing over them, but mostly people exist on the span in between.”
2) Never underestimate the power of human nature - The people who get newspapers in print tend to be committed to getting the product in that form and whether it’s habit or not, they tend to stick with getting that paper delivered to their doorstep. O’Brien related that when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ceased publishing its print edition and went web only, thanks to a joint operating agreement all P-I subscribers were switched automatically to the only remaining Seattle daily – The Seattle Times. People had the option to cancel, but something interesting happened. They didn’t. Not only did they retain their existing subscriptions, but when those began to run out, almost everyone renewed. O’Brien is not surprised by this and spoke of the digitally saturated people with whom he speaks every day – the venture capitalists and tech company executives whose lives are shackled to Blackberries and RSS feeds. “These are people who use technology for everything in their lives and they still get the paper in print. They still have it delivered to their doorstep.”
3) In today’s rapidly moving world, tactile yet passive experiences have merit - One of my favorite things about that morning paper is, quite simply, turning the pages. Humans are, after all, kinesthetic creatures, so the hands-on experience of a paper has some value. O’Brien agrees with that, and thinks that there’s something even more simple. Sometimes people just want a “psychologically different experience … a purely passive experience.” He went on to explain that oftentimes people don’t want “something with buttons or to click around. Even with a Kindle, there are buttons to push and that’s not appealing to them. They just want something that’s there. Something they don’t have to think about.” There are some who disagree with that perspective, but I’m not one of them.
What does all of this mean? From where I sit, it’s pretty clear newspapers aren’t going away. While some may enjoy the macabre view of a deathwatch, the truth is that this is all about evolution; and as these things go, it’s not about today – it’s about what and who is coming across the horizon.
For starters, there are myriad efforts to revitalize and retool newsrooms and O’Brien has done more than dabble on this front. Awarded a grant from the Knight Foundation, O’Brien tackled the task of building a next generation newsroom for Duke University. His “Next Newsroom” project, included the development of a site on which to archive his research and create a conversation around the task of designing this newsroom of the future. Though the official part of the grant ended in 2008, the Ning network he created lives on – and is thriving. In addition, in spite of the bleak industry outlook, the numbers for Journalism programs across the US proffer a glimmer of hope – they’re on the rise.
Are these monumental steps that will swoop in and save the anemic newspaper industry? No. They do, however, represent positive movement in a necessary evolution – an evolution that will no doubt lead to a new kind of newspaper for a new kind of audience.
As for me and my newspaper thief – the problem has been resolved. No, I haven’t found the culprit (though I did narrow down the potential suspects to one of eight residents in my building). Instead, my newspaper delivery man has adapted. Rather than whizzing by my house and winging the paper out of the open window of his car, this fine fellow stops his car, and physically hides the paper for me every morning.
Besides the guarantee that this great service will keep me as a subscriber, you can be sure I’ll be giving him a nice present for the holidays.
Twitter released a new Terms of Service today. You probably got an email about it, and they covered it – in brief – over on the Twitter blog.
The basics are just that you own your own tweets, although Twitter can republish them (since that is their purpose), they’ve left the door open for advertising, spam is bad, and there are specific guidelines for use of the API. The summary from their blog is
Advertising—In the Terms, we leave the door open for advertising. We’d like to keep our options open as we’ve said before.
Ownership—Twitter is allowed to “use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute” your tweets because that’s what we do. However, they are your tweets and they belong to you.
APIs—The apps that have grown around the Twitter platform are flourishing and adding value to the ecosystem. You authorize us to make content available via our APIs. We’re also working on guidelines for use of the API.
The two things that stand out to me are that I have ownership of my tweets, which heads off the whole Facebook TOS Privacy fiasco, and that Twitter is leaving the “door open” for advertising. By doing this, they’re allowing themselves to take their time deciding what advertising/sponsorship option works best for them.