The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Posts Tagged ‘twitter

There is Life Beyond the Valley and they might just not speak English


Every once in a while I feel have to take the San Francisco echo chamber to task. It often happens around Le Web oddly enough. I have pasted a few comments from Roberts post below and you will get the idea. The premise is founded on the internet world being centred in California and the tools that are built there, including Twitter and Facebook.

World-brand-building mistakes France’s entrepreneurs make | Scobleizer

So, since you were meeting with us and since we’ve spent precious resources getting there and had sizeable opportunity costs, I figure entrepreneurs should be better prepared. In this case you get to learn from their mistakes.

Four CEOs told me their companies weren’t on Twitter and that they didn’t have enough time to join Twitter. That got me quite angry.

Luckily I’ve found 500 tech company founders who ARE clued in and found Twitter to be important. Why is Twitter important? Well, it might have to do with the 422 venture capitalists and angel investors who are on Twitter or the hundreds of tech company executives (these are your exit possibilities!!!) who also are on Twitter. If you know of people who should be on this list that I don’t know about, please leave a comment here. By the way, when I told off the entrepreneurs sitting next to me a CEO whispered in my ear “I agree.” Who was that CEO? Kamel Zeroual, CEO of Stribe. Who is Stribe? The French company that won best of show at LeWeb, the world’s biggest independent web conference. He and his company are one of the few that were on Twitter.

In North America in particular Twitter, FaceBook, and Foursquare are considered de rigeur and in fact may well turn out to be pervasive global brands. Simple fact – at nearly 400 million users FaceBook is getting close to pervasive, but the others – time will tell. Twitter has an audience of 2 million in France against a population of 62 million. Not a bad start, however they speak French. The VC’s Robert speaks of and the others he suggests that French startups are missing speak English, not French. Robert goes on to berate French for using French in Twitter.

I should have answered back “no, it’s because your Twitter feed is French.” :-)

I could go on. The point I would like to make is that the world is not centred on San Francisco and the Valley. I think Robert makes valid points if you want to get noticed by the people he feels are important to be noticed by, but there are additional subtleties that are being missed by him.

Written by Colin Henderson

December 15, 2009 at 01:31

Thoughts on the real-time web, and the fallacy of the wisdom of crowds


The big meme at the moment is the real-time web. I have a couple of points to make here, that might help understand the current state of internet. If like me you are fed up of hearing CNN reporters say "and over here on Twitter mightymouse says ….. " then read on, and hopefully this helps define your own perspective.

The broad notion of real time is that the internet is series of information snippets that can be pulled together from disparate sources across the web. By immersing yourself in this pool of information through tools such as twitter, Facebook, Posterous, Tumblr etc, you will elevate yourself to new levels of awareness and no doubt approach a zen like status! For more read the experts; Chris Messina, ReadWriteWeb | the definitive primer

This is all wrong. One thing the ‘leaders’ from silicon valley miss is that the next big thing does not replace all things that went before. How often did we read that social networks will replace blogging. To suggest that the real-time web will replace all else that went before is to suggest that conversations in coffee shops will replace universities. Perhaps my metaphor is not ideal, but you get the idea. Society requires all kinds of people and many types of approaches and interactions to move ahead.. And all those approiaches do not impact each person – each has their own approach. The proponents of real time suggest that 140 characters will replace document search online. The web will somehow gravitate from a web of documents and pages to a web of snippets.

This conversation cannot move forward without referring to the Semantic Web where the internet is a series of data that can searched, aggregated, disseminated as each person sees fit. When we think about the Semantic Web then the real time concept makes more sense as part of the larger whole.

So thats my take on real time – yes it is coming, but its not an end in and of itself, and it does not replace what went before. Actually it might replace what went before for those with attention deficit but I won’t go there 🙂

A related point is how the masses are smarter than the individual. The fallacy of the Wisdom of Crowds is pointed out here in new research addressed by Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb. Where is the Wisdom of crowds

This is something we all know intuitively. She refers to Wikipedia, Amazon, IMdb, Digg and BookCrossing. The conclusion is simple and frankly intuitive. The majority of people are lurkers and browsers. The contributors are a very small group, 1% in the case of Wikipedia. Jimmy Wales refers to them as the Wikipedia community. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The notion of authors and readers is as old as books. This is what makes the world work.

Back to real time web. The reason it is a misnomer, is that the real time web has two components. One is simple immediacy. Information is transmitted to all users immediately, versus the 20 minute +/- index delay with Google search or few minutes delay with RSS. The second component of real time is the simultaneous sharing. Everyone can see the same update at the same time because everyone is in twitter all the time :-/

Scoble himself creates a list of reasons that Twitter is now part of eveyones life, and he actually argues against his own point here:

8. If you don’t read tweets for eight hours, don’t worry, all the big stuff you missed will be on TechMeme. When I was the first to talk about Yelp’s augmented reality feature on Twitter and on FriendFeed it was quickly blogged by EVERYONE and was on TechMeme within a few minutes and stayed there for about a day. The same is true of ALL news. I have not found an example yet where something important is discussed on Twitter about a tech company or tech news and doesn’t show up on TechMeme within a few hours. What doesn’t show up? Small stuff like birthdays or launches of obscure technology that only a very small audience will use.

Something to think about at a personal level – do you feel smarter because of your twitter feed? Do you every wonder what you are missing? Can we be just as smart by following a simple aggregation tool, and save ourselves a bunch of time in the meantime?

Then from a bank strategy and marketing strategy perspective, if we think through the above, the inputs to Twitter that are read by the lurkers will be represented by two components.

  1. the 1%
  2. marketers

Relevance to Bankwatch:
Banks should definitely not ignore the trends, and should participate in these platforms – the above does not mean anything here will disappear, merely that further evolution is inevitable, and it is essential to be part of that evolution. We are a long way from end of job in terms of defining how markets and marketing will play out here. The 1% thing is worrisome though, and is something that brings into question the validity of the social platforms for marketing purposes; the lack of widespread input will lead to consumer disaffection and lack of trust very quickly if people can see platforms being gamed by marketers.

Written by Colin Henderson

September 18, 2009 at 09:36

State Department official, Jared Cohen, e-mailed Twitter – delay scheduled maintenance


This has little directly to do with banking per se, but it has a lot to do with information seeking, gathering, and the seismic shifts in how transparency of otherwise opaque bodies can be nullified by the internet tools available.  It is also just plain fascinating, and something all strategists should watch and try to understand.

Whether this was innocent or otherwise, it appears to be a fact that it happened hence the significance.  Also read here for discussion and note the ‘informed’ comments.  One cannot help but think that there is something deliberate to all this, and even that Twitter may be an unwitting accomplice.

[If this is the same guy, Cohen is actively engaged at State in Middle Eastern affairs, and published this “Iran’s Young Opposition: Youth in Post-Revolutionary Iran”.]

With a hint to Twitter, Washington taps into a new force in diplomacy | NY Times

Yet on Monday afternoon, a 27-year-old State Department official, Jared Cohen, e-mailed the social-networking site Twitter with an unusual request: delay scheduled maintenance of its global network, which would have cut off service while Iranians were using Twitter to swap information and inform the outside world about the mushrooming protests around Tehran.

The request, made to a Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, is yet another new-media milestone: the recognition by the United States government that an Internet blogging service that did not exist four years ago has the potential to change history in an ancient Islamic country.

“This was just a call to say: ‘It appears Twitter is playing an important role at a crucial time in Iran. Could you keep it going?’ ” said P.J. Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs.

update: Whose views are being managed and by whom? (Washington Post)

“Twitter’s impact inside Iran is zero,” said Mehdi Yahyanejad, manager of a Farsi-language news site based in Los Angeles. “Here, there is lots of buzz, but once you look . . . you see most of it are Americans tweeting among themselves.

Written by Colin Henderson

June 17, 2009 at 11:36

Real-time search – fact and fiction, and why?


One of the latest trends in ‘the valley’ is the notion of real time search.  This has been brought to highlight by twitter search.  While I understand the idea of real-time, the idea of applying the concept to the entire internet seems like a big job, and so it is with some scepticism that I hear people believe Twitter have solved that riddle.

An example elsewhere in the text was of banks – their information is not real time.  Consider ATM deposits that appear on the next days date, or payroll electronic funds transfer which are deposited in batch mode overnight.  Batch mode is the opposite of real-time.  Like everything, there is a reason, and while its not optimal, real-time is a long way off in many respects.  It will be dependent on computing power, data storage, disk access speeds, bandwidth, standardisation of data standards and messaging standards, amongst other things I am sure to have missed.

I came across this in the comments on RWW.  They are doing a series of posts on new ‘net trends, and did a piece on real-time, which produced this comment from Falafulu Fisi, who I am sure if he does not work for Google yet, he might soon.

Anyhow the distinction he draws is this;  you can have real time search of raw data, or real time search of cleansed data.  [warning – lots of mathematics here]

Here is an attempted summary that does no justice of the Fisi comment on real-time search.

Raw data search: clumsy, inefficient, duplicative, and requires the user to sift through enormous amounts of results to locate what he needs.

Cleansed data search: using techniques such as feature computation or feature decomposition results can be indexed and computations performed on the data that allow qualified and targeted results.

He notes that twitter use raw data search, and the results while seconds old, are what you might expect – very much a kitchen sink approach, and not elegant.

In summary my conclusion on this is that real time search is a much different animal than twitter search.  Twitter search is just that … a keyword search of twitter.  There is nothing for nothing even in computational matters, although the promise of real-time remains interesting I am not sure it is the appropriate target.

Relevance to Bankwatch:

As a side note, I was involved in one situation at a Bank whereby we wanted to purchase a search tool for our web site.  The general consensus of many is that search is a commodity, and therefore the cheapest ought to be enough.  That cannot be further from the truth.  The algorithms and calculations involved in search are what make it useful, and there is much disparity between the tools.

In fact I would be ok with 24 hour old search, if it meant the quality and targetting of the results were better.  Once we have solved the targetting and accuracy of results, which mean the results that I expect, or that you expect, which are not the same; once we have solved that, then real-time could be the next target but not before.  Unfortunately by the time the ‘real-timers’ will get what are asking for, they might realise that is not what they wanted.

Written by Colin Henderson

May 25, 2009 at 12:25

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