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My Vision Of Social Networking: Burning Problems

This is a first post from my series about social networking.

UPDATE: Yihong Ding created post about Genome. Yihong have the gift of making complex things really easy along with the ability to recognize trends. And that makes him a great thinker and evangelist. Don’t miss his post.

Now I wanna talk to you about some burning problems we have when using social networking sites and tools. This is how I feel from user’s point of view.

Let’s start with publicity and privacy.

Problem #1: Publicity (and privacy)

What your parents, friends and colleagues will think about it???

What will your parents, friends or colleagues think about you????

Are you sure you want everybody to know your phone number, your email? Your ex’s? Do you really need your colleagues or employer to know about your problems?

Due to privacy issues you don’t have a necessary level of intimacy of your social network, although every person needs it. You have several privacy levels in your “real” life (I believe, it’s wrong to make a difference between real life and social networking life, more on this later). In descending order by intimacy level (also look at this taxonomy in comments):

  • Spouse/girl- or boyfriend
  • Family member
  • Best friend
  • Friend
  • Buddy
  • Colleague
  • Business partner
  • Creepy high school acquaintance
  • Can’t remember, too embarrassed to admit it
  • etc.

This natural order reflects the richness of human relationships. And the social networking must embrace them.

See also:

Problem #2: Distraction (and Time Wasting)

Social networking is incredibly distracting

Image courtesy of Paul Stamatiou. Do I have to say something more? Okay. Let’s do some maths.

You sleep 8 hours a day. You move 2 hours a day. You work/study 6-8 hours a day. How much time do you have for the rest? 6-8 hours. Not much. Think about it! Just 8 hours a day for doing sports, collecting stamps, cooking, enjoying your family and all these endless things! Just 8 f***g hours a day! Do you really want to waste it trying to get rid of all these messages, pokes and other *es, invitations, requests, etc.???

Sure, do it if social networking is a part of your profession or business. But in your real life most of this activity just doesn’t matter. We must reduce amount of information. Pay attention to really important things.

See also:

Problem #3: Quantity over quality

How do you like this?

Do you really need 5000 \

Or this?

That’s A LOT of people! 15’000 people is a population of a small town. Okay, I agree that a person can be so popular that a lot of people want to add her/him to their “friends”. But this is just one way interaction. Your social networking profile becomes just like RSS feed.

Value for a user depending on size of his social network

Value for a user as function of his social network size

That’s worth nothing. This “quantity over quality” trend is completely wrong in my opinion. We completely lost all richness of in-person interactions and relationships. Liz Strauss says: “The wider I go, the shallower I get”. I completely agree.

This problem is very close to Problem #2: Distraction I mentioned above.

See also:

Problem #4: Ads

Banner ads suck

See more mmm…”cases” here.

And again, do I need to say something more? I’m fed up with unwanted, irrelevant, banner ads.

Even Google ads rocks only on the search page. They often irrelevant on other pages. It seems like ads (even targeted) just don’t work on social networks. They are just annoying. When I see an ad on MY page (I’m the Owner of all my social data and profile!), it just makes me mad.

See also:

  • Waiting for your examples of stupid and ridiculous ads =)

Problem #5: No control under your identity

Oh….this is possibly the largest problem. And the most painful. To understand importance of the problem imagine that Facebook or MySpace (or other social networking site you’re using extensively) suddenly stop working. Or they decided to reposition themselves and start to sell fruits, for instance.

Your profile, your friends, you message history, all your connections and data are LOST! Forever!

Because Facebook owes your data, not you. You cannot save all your data on your computer. Basically, you cannot import or export your data.

So, let me enumerate all things you can’t do:

  • You can’t import/export your data
  • You can’t control who see what about you
  • You can’t watch who know what about you
  • You can’t ask some new web service to read your name, email, contacts ,etc. from your social networking site during sign-up
  • I’m sure, you can continue this list by yourself

See also:

Don’t miss:


I’m working on the project called Genome. My goal is to create social networking experience that doesn’t suck. I plan to implement all constructive ideas I’m talking about here in my project.


June 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Me on “The Word Of Mouth Manual. Part II”

Chris, you’ve asked me about the book, and here is my opinion.

First, I like the definition of pure word of mouth:

It’s the kind of evangelist eruption and wildfire opinion–spreading
that happens only once or twice per decade. Suddenly, a brand
that yesterday was almost invisible is recognized by every con-
sumer from Boston to Bangkok. People want it so badly they line
up on cold, dirty sidewalks, sleeping in their own grime and fer-
vor for days on end in hopes of getting at least a glimpse of its
greatness, even if it will be gone by the time they actually get to
the store.

Second, key components to success:

• Stellar Product. Distinctive. Innovative. Features unlike  anything else on the market.
• PassIonate and dedIcated core audIence. Made even more distinctive and noteworthy by a community of outspoken, equally passionate, product haters.
• Brand values. Consumers align with values that are very important to their own identity.

• Impeccable tImIng. From youth trends to distribution to market demands to competitors’ follies. The point: You can’t pick this moment. It picks you.

Dave noticed that it’s really hard to achieve pure word of mouth. But it’s enough if your product is in people’s Top 40 Products. People will spread the word only about their top 40 favourite products or services (and the number of social connections are limited by 150, even if you have 1500 friends on Facebook or MySpace 🙂 ).

And the most exciting thing about word of mouth is that it’s free. You cannot buy it, but it’s free.

Looks like natural selection. Ah, world is a strange, but nice place.

June 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Travelling Is Good

Cool guy!

June 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

How to learn English: Russian students experience

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Here is text version.

Conference Panelists Get Entertained And Educated

The room was crowded with attendees’ laptops. It’s a common occurrence for the CS students who gathered for “IT. Modern applications” conference last Tuesday at NSTU.

8 panelists were talking on various topics including Software as a Service (SaaS), using IT in manufacture, in education and on such specific topics like debugging, optical character recognition and Oracle streams solutions. Speakers answered a lot of questions improving and expanding their language skills. The audience on the other side had a chance to learn more.

For instance Anton Petukhov in his talk “Software + Service (SaaS)” has noted that Google is negotiating with NSTU for giving a special Google Apps Education Edition.

Google Apps Education Edition is a broad IT solution that schools can use to bring communication and collaboration tools to the entire academic community for free.

Software as a service (SaaS) is a software application delivery model where a software vendor develops a web-native software application and hosts and operates the application for use by its customers over the Internet. This is very perspective model, and Anton made good presentation about it.

Dmitry Prytkov was very kind to share his experience he gained at “Top-kniga”. He was talking on using Oracle streams solution for integrating and manipulating multiple heterogeneous data sources.

Debugging is the most important software developing phase. Writing apps is easy. Bug fixing is hard. That’s why everyone was listening Sergey Ignatov and watching his slides (considered the best ones) when Sergey was speaking on “Introduction to Debugging”.

If you tired of typing your papers again and again, here is OCR or optical character recognition. Now it’s a large industry and growing. Dmitry Dubrovsky told that OCR is mainly the electronic translation of images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text (usually captured by a scanner) into machine-editable text. He demonstrated OCR system he’s working on. His perceptron-based neural network was able to recognize passport data quite good, especially having in mind that here still a lot of work do.

Manufacture is a paradise for IT. Here information technologies can show their real potential when you need to reduce the costs, lower barriers, save energy, optimize personal, etc. That’s why Ksenya Pichugina and Irina Toporovskaya were talking one by one about IT in manufacture. They started with using controllers and microcontrollers and proceeded with smart houses and a lot of other stuff.

And finally Lyuda Prushenova told us about using IT in education towards the end of the conference. That was especially relevant talk, because of educational nature of the conference. She was speaking on electronic publications and libraries, distance learning, etc.

“That was quite interesting. I expected the worst. The only reason to complaint is absence of projector. I liked Sergey Ignatov’s presentation most of all, because the topic was interesting, and the slides were perfect. Also that’s good that the topics were so different. That’s interesting,” says Roman Nagorkin.

“In my opinion such a conferences are quite valuable. The value is that they mobilize speakers and push them to purposeful structuring of information they want to share. Such a conferences would be especially helpful for training as they develop spoken language. As of today we have lack of just that very skill. Regarding the conference it has glided well. The absence of projector caused some inconvenience. I liked the atmosphere. The speakers were nervous a little, but there is nothing to be surprised at. If it were for instance third conference the atmosphere might have been even free and comfortable,” says Anton Petukhov.

“Well the conference needed coffee break :)”, says Mikhail Toropov. “Also the topics were indirectly connected each other. But other than that good”.

“That was interesting”, says Irina Toporovskaya.

“I wasn’t impressed a lot. The topics was burning in whole, but the speakers suffer from the lack of language skills”, says Ksenya Pichugina.

“The conference worked out,” says Anna Kochkina. “A great deal of new ground was covered. The questions raised in the talks are burning problems. I liked the moderator Vladislav Chernyshov not only as a person who have a good command of English, but also as a person who is competent en masse aspects of the conference scope”.

Very nice! Actually, I think we need more classes like this. Only regular training in English-lang-environment could really help us reach pretty-well level in English. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for different reasons“, says Dmitry Prytkov.

The conference was masterminded by Helen Kaminsky and moderated by her student Vladislav Chernyshov.

In conclusion. As have been noted by the attendees such a conferences are much more interesting and fun (and thus more effective) form of the lessons. Moreover, they help students to learn more about their fields of scientific interest. This practice is definitely poised for wide adoption in educational process. This also encourages cooperation between students and thus results in effectiveness.

May 2008
By Vladislav Chernyshov, undergraduate student, Computer Science.

June 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Social networks cloning is good

Here’s two thumbs. One is Facebook and another is Vkontakte, one of Russian social networks.

Which one is Facebook? )))) Did you notice the difference?



Nice, right? A lot of people would say that making clones is bad, it’s illegal, it makes no sense, etc.

Well, basically that’s bullshit.

I will explain. Of course, it’s bad to make clones oriented to the same local users. I mean it’s stupid to make another Facebook clone in US. But making a Facebook (or any other successful network) clone, for instance, in Brazil can be a bless for Brazilians. Because they are enjoying social networking and they don’t need to reinvent a weel.

But please, DO NOT follow the leader  when your trying to innovate. If you think your social network will be 10% better than Facebook or MySpace, think again. +10% makes no sense. Instead try to create social network that is 10 times better.

Try something new. New approaches, new models. And keep things as simple as possible.

June 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Venture Capitalist Fashion =)

Found cools T-shirts))) My favourites:

and this one )))))))

Visit for more.

UPDATE: If you liked these T-shirts, take a look at this website too

These guys rock))))

June 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Nice presentations about problems and perspectives of social networking

I really love these:

Also see post here.

Also worth paying attention to:

June 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Word Of Mouth: Undress Now!

Word of mouth. Holy Grail of all marketers these days. Is this just another buzz or it’s something really going on here?

What’s word of mouth?

It’s the oldest and the most natural way to share something people like. It’s in human’s nature to spread the word about things they like. For instance, if you like a particular restaurant, then it’s very likely that you will tell about it to your friends, and if they’ll like it too, they’ll spread the word further, etc, etc, etc.

Why now?

There is a lot of buzz about it now, because of…hmm…Web! Surprised?

We have more than 1,400,000,000 internet users and 400,000,000 mobile internet users (and growing fast). It’s almost 2 bln internet users! Now imagine 2bln people spreading the word using social networks and services like Twitter and Pownce. It’s really possible to reach a lot of people within hours or days.

Companies, undress now!

How companies can benefit here (especially smal companies and startups)? I think they should…undress.

They should be a much open as possible. Which doesn’t mean you should have a blog or something. This is obvious. It means, if you’re going to hire someone, tell this. If you’re having a party, tell this, if you’re in doubt, tell this, if you’re excited about something, tell this to your community, to your users and customers.

Tell’em everything. Let them feel like they are a part of your company’s life. And you word of mouth will take you wherever you want.

This is how I feel.

You may also want to see this:

June 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Dave Balter’s “The Word Of Mouth Manual. Part II”

This is a great book by Dave Balter from word of mouth marketing agency BzzAgent. And it’s free (!) You can download it right now in PDF format.

Really interesting book. Definitely worth reading.

June 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Gmail Engineers Are Right

Google yesterday announced Gmail Labs, and I think they are damn right. Be fast, stupid. It’s all about experimenting and iterating. Nice. I love it.

June 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment