Technology Weather

My weather experiment on FriendFeed

The latest foray into my meteorologically-themed social media exploration is the Charleston Weather FriendFeed group, designed with some automated aggregation of Charleston weather-related tweets in mind, but also designed as a point for folks to share their weather stories and reports. It seems like a strange, nearly too-narrowly focused topic for a FriendFeed group, but I see it as an important proof of concept stemming from some goals we set for Charleston news reporting in March.

You may remember the Charleston news hashtag summit-of-sorts. The meeting brought together media members, active Lowcountry bloggers, and concerned Twitter citizens. We hashed out a series of tags that would classify tweets accordingly. There are tags for news (#chsnews), breaking stories (#chsbrkg), and the like. The goal of using these — and really, any hashtag — is to bring related content together so people can filter their streams accordingly. These tags have met with moderate adoption; I’ve personally seen some tags more than others. One of them, #chswx, is one focus of my FriendFeed group.

Observations Technology

Brief thoughts on the new FriendFeed

After a week and a lot of tweaking by the FriendFeed team, I’m finding that the new FriendFeed beta is pretty great. Its landmark front-and-center feature is its default real-time stream. At first, it was entirely too fast and made me reach for my filters (which, by the way, have been ridiculously enhanced in this new FF) and the Pause button, which stops the real-time stream. However, the FF team made some changes to how the real-time system works and now my stream is a bit easier to keep up with. I subscribe to 283 folks, which makes for a fairly active stream at times (but certainly nothing like Robert Scoble’s 14,000+).

It’s taken some time, but the new FF’s really grown on me. I’m getting more and more comfortable in it, and have just scratched the surface of the filtering functionality, which really cements FF’s reputation as a power-user social media tool. I see a lot of concern that FF can’t break into the mainstream and all that because it’s “too hard.” You know, I’m okay with it not doing that. Perhaps there are some additional things that FriendFeed can do to make it a bit more accessible, but it absolutely should not compromise its power user features for the sake of gaining more folks. FriendFeed does beautifully at what it does and astounds me at how it adds features to cut through the noise to the signal. Plus, its basic features are simple enough — you already use them on Facebook, after all. I encourage you to give the beta a shot and subscribe to my feed if you dare.


New Facebook: Consistently Inconsistent

So after much impatience, sarcasm, and self-doubt, I finally got the updated Facebook look sometime while I was driving home from work yesterday. And you know, after all that, I’m somewhat underwhelmed.


Yes, I’m doing it wrong: A blog about blogging

So the conventional wisdom is not to talk about a medium using the medium that is being discussed; i.e. you’re not supposed to tweet about Twitter, you’re not supposed to blog about blogging…whatever. These people who tell you this are the same people who tell you that auto DMs on Twitter are a good thing. Thus, I categorically reject this conventional wisdom, because we don’t break any ground with conventional wisdom ANYWAY.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but over the last couple months, I’ve more narrowly focused the blog on social media topics. There’s a lot about Facebook. There’s a cubic crapton about Twitter, all intermingled with some Brightkite, FriendFeed, and Sure, I’ve written about the Super Bowl, but I’ve kept the topics pretty narrowly focused. This is a side effect of my using Twitter; items that I might have posted as “asides” here often end up there because of its sheer convenience. Another thing I’ve discovered: FriendFeed is a stellar way to micro-blog, especially if I need more than 140 characters. It can offer instant feedback and viral promotion via “likes,” and the conversation there is tough to top right now. It’s not just using different services, either. Two of my big topics here of late have been Serious Business show notes and weather, and I’ve shifted both these items off to their own sites in order to let them flourish.

So where does that leave the ol’ homestead? Scrambling to adjust, and reacquire its voice.

Media Technology

WCBD’s Social Media Push

WCBD, Charleston’s NBC affiliate, is launching a huge push into social media today by getting a majority of its news staff on Twitter. This is huge — I can’t say I’ve seen too many news agencies place a majority of their staff out into the wild amongst the Twitter-using public. Everybody from the anchors to the photogs is on and listening. Just today I was having a converation with morning anchor Brad Franko during the A-Rod (A-Roid?) press conference. WCBD’s had a presence on Twitter for a while, starting with producer Raymond Owens. Raymond was the first of the television journalists — and among the first of the journalists in Charleston in general — to make news a conversation over Twitter. That struck me. I was particularly pleased when chief meteorologist Rob Fowler joined up later, and gradually more and more folks at the channel started to tweet. I still think one of the marvels of Twitter is how it brings the people together with the media; with media listening in on what people are talking about over Twitter, it helps them serve our interests that much more effectively.

So, with that in mind, I’ve put together a few things that WCBD — and other news organizations tempted to take the social media plunge — should give a shot.


Twitter’s down — now what?

If you’ve been on Twitter anytime so far this year, you know how bad 2009’s been treating it. First a phishing scheme, then a completely unrelated hacking, and then MacWorld clogged the service’s tubes. Wednesday brought a respite, but Thursday the Failbots and Fail Whales returned early and often. When those weren’t popping up, users were greeted with timelines an hour or more into the past, making Twitter largely unusable. To make matters worse, today’s starting with more of the same. (I blew off some steam about this Wednesday night on Serious Business, and if their problems continue, Twitter will get another tongue-lashing next week. The Twitters are serious business.)

A lot of people are new to Twitter since its epic meltdown this summer, so they may not know that there are a couple other places you might be able to find your Twitter friends while Twitter’s down — and, for that matter, even while it’s up, as each service brings a set of unique and valuable qualities to the table that make them worth sticking around.


MacWorld Rips Hole In Tweet-Time Continuum


In case you’ve been avoiding the Internets today, this morning (on the West Coast) saw the Philnote at MacWorld Expo 2009. As I write this, it’s been done for a half hour; though if you’ve been following it on Twitter, Tony Bennett is just now starting up. Right now, my timeline’s about 37 minutes behind. It’s better than nothing; I’m still getting my replies in real-time, but if you were hoping to follow Macworld on Twitter, it’s clear that it just doesn’t fly. There was a similar issue on election night when Obama claimed the presidency.

Instead, I followed the keynote in a real-time Apple room on FriendFeed. While there were occasional hiccups where I’d get a ton of stuff dumped on me at once, FriendFeed continued to demonstrate excellent performance under duress. And, real-time interactivity with “likes” and comments on FriendFeed enables discussion that Twitter simply can’t, especially when it’s running a half-hour behind. So, I think it’s worth saying that this time around, FriendFeed made following the event easier and more intuitive, not to mention that it stayed on pace with the event.

I’ll give Twitter one thing: At least it didn’t crash. That’s a huge improvement over last year. It’s clear there’s still more work to do to improve capacity, though. Here’s a status update from Twitter regarding the timeline issue.

Update: The Twitter API has given up the ghost.


Stuff I’ve liked lately — the October edition

Back in July I put together a little list of “stuff I like.” It’s been a few months, so I think I’ll do another round.

  • FriendFeed Real-time. It’s friggin’ amazing is what it is. This launched a few weeks ago and it has helped increase my FriendFeed usage substantially. It partially fills the void that losing Twitter IM has created. I like to take the mini-window and stick it in my Firefox sidebar (a trick I picked up from Scobleizer at ConvergeSouth). Try it, it’s fun!
  • Qik on BlackBerry. I nearly cheated on my BlackBerry last week with an iPhone because of iPhone’s Qik capability (despite the fact that you still have to jailbreak it), but BlackBerry reeled me back in with its superior e-mail management, and Qik’s announcement of BlackBerry compatibility sealed the deal for me. The BlackBerry Bold is out on AT&T on the 4th — and my equipment discount eligibility begins the same day. It’s as if they timed it just for me. :) Qik is another one of those technologies I became quasi-obsessed with after seeing it in action at ConvergeSouth.
  • Pandora Radio. Being without my music library at work for a couple weeks has turned me back on to this service, and it’s utterly amazing how effective it is at picking what I like and finding similar music that I really dig. The record companies and broadcast industry are crazy for trying to kill this off, because I’m primed to buy a whole lot more music now than I ever would have if not for Pandora.
  • Tantric’s new single “Fall Down.” The song was originally recorded for the shelved Tantric III album; the III version contained a cameo by Nappy Roots, and I was lucky enough to grab an MP3 before the III stuff was scrapped. Tantric re-recorded the song with the new band, and I must say that it is a lot tighter now. I’m still a bit cool on the remake of “The One,” another Tantric III song that was recut for The End Begins, but “Fall Down” nails it. (I am REALLY BUMMED that I didn’t get to see Tantric when they were in Goose Creek last week.)
  • Internet Explorer 8. I am extremely impressed with the rendering work Microsoft is doing in the new IE. There are still some bugs and things that need improvement (and I’m bummed that MS is squandering an opportunity to push forward with CSS3 here), but IE 8’s new standards compliance mode brings IE’s rendering fidelity right on par with Firefox, Opera, and Safari moreso than at any point in IE’s history. Kudos to the IE team for the good work they’re doing.

Of course, this is just a short list of a lot of things. I like a lot of things on a regular basis, and you can keep an eye on my individual “likes” on FriendFeed.

What have you liked? Sound off in comments!

In Brief Weather

Great tropical weather resource

I encourage you to check out the Hurricane room on FriendFeed, the hyper-aggregator service. The room, created by Rob Williams and suggested to me in comments the other day, brings in a variety of sources of information about hurricane threats in one location with full interactivity and commenting. (Rooms are why FriendFeed kicks boo-tay.) I highly recommend it for getting all the updates and news in one place.


Stuff I’ve liked lately

I’ve been running across some neat stuff on the ‘Nets these days, such as…

  • The redesigned It’s really improved; the social networking aspects are far stronger now, as friend requests are actually highlighted better, and they’re even adding a little News Feed-like action. It’s also nice that I can see my loved tracks (I do a lot of lovin’ on My favorite part? The graphical breakdowns now are more than just “last week” and “overall” — you can get breakdowns from a year, six months, and three months as well. Killer; helps me identify a lot of musical trends. Check mine out and maybe even friend me!
  • Fail We Can Believe In. This Obamaized Fail Whale graphic is oddly appropriate seeing how Twitter took a dump in the last couple days and screwed a lot of people’s follower/following lists up. They’ve been getting those restored, but the whale still reigns supreme. (More on Twitter’s barf in a later post, this one is supposed to be positive!)
  • The Tropical Weather FriendFeed Room. This FriendFeed room pulls in feeds from the National Hurricane Center as well as Dr. Jeff Masters’ tropical blog on Weather Underground into an easy-to-follow, and easy-to-discuss format that FriendFeed is great for. It’s been a wonderful time-saver with the recent tropical activity in the Atlantic.
  •, the open-source, federated Twitter-like network. If things keep progressing at the pace they’re progressing, could stand a serious challenge to Twitter. They are adding features at a monstrous pace, and was just added as the latest supported microblogging service in Twhirl. Best part? Anybody can run the software powering (it’s called Laconica), making for a truly federated microblogging platform.

Seen anything you’ve liked lately? Throw it in comments. :)