blog :: social networking

FriendFeed Rooms List

Posted on 27 May 2008 by Andy

FriendFeed launched thier new rooms functionality on Thursday and users have been busy playing with the service to see exactly how best to use it. The seems to have been a bit of a goldrush for the good names and Corvida of SheGeeks rightly pointed out that there is a danger of rooms dividing the community.

FriendFeed logo

A common request has been for a list of available public rooms, a feature that I wholeheartedly agree with. So I hacked around with a bit of perl and came up with the following list via the Yahoo Search API. It is by no means complete and probably out of date as soon as I post it, but it is a start. Enjoy.

UPDATE: I’ve re-run the query and Yahoo has indexed a load more rooms, so the list has been updated. Andy Beard has chimed in with a google query that returns FriendFeed rooms.

So, there you go, 77 107 786(!) rooms so far and no doubt more being added everyday. If you have a public room on FriendFeed that you would like to publicise here, please leave a comment below.

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Is Your Blog Creating A Buzz On Social Media?

Posted on 22 Apr 2008 by Andy

Early warning radar

Lots people use social media to find new and interesting content nowadays and clever blog authors can monitor those networks to find great promotional avenues for their content, join the discussion or react to head off bad publicity.

Social media moves fast, very fast - digg has around 100 popular posts per day - so you need to react quickly to catch the buzz before it moves on. This post will explain how to monitor some of the more popular social networks for your blog and get notified quickly.

RSS

The secret sauce for this technique is RSS, a protocol for managing streams of information. As a blogger, you probably know all about RSS but if you’re not using it yet, get to it!

Almost all social media sites provide RSS feeds, some more comprehensive than others. This post shows how to monitor feeds from Technorati, FriendFeed, Reddit, Digg and del.icio.us.

First you’ll need an RSS reader or (better still) account with a feed agregator, Google Reader is perfect and it’s free.

The Internet Is A Series Of Pipes

Luckily, engtech over at Internet Duct Tape has done a lot of the hard work for us in the form of two Yahoo Pipes.

The first will monitor Technorati for recent mentions of your blog. Just enter your blog’s URL, run the pipe and subscribe to the feed.

The second pipe check Digg and Reddit for mentions of any URL in your domain. Very cool stuff. As before, enter the URL, run the pipe and subscribe to the feed.

FriendFeed Makes It Easy

It makes good sense to monitor FriendFeed for mentions of your blog because it incorporates information from many sources, like Stumbleupon and Tumblr that are not covered in this post and can be difficult to get information from.

By contrast, it’s a piece of cake to get the information you seek from FriendFeed. Just follow these steps:

  1. Go to the public tab.
  2. Enter your blog name in the search box at the top-right.
  3. At the bottom of the results you will see a label “Other ways to see this search” with an RSS icon next to it.
  4. Click the icon and subscribe.

Nice and easy.

A del.icio.us Pipe

Another Yahoo Pipe is used to find pages of your site tagged on del.icio.us, this time by Adam Boulton over at iCrossing.

The pipe can be found here and it works in the same way as the others - enter your domain, run it and subscribe.

Four Social Sites Tracked In Three Feeds

Warning light

Now you have your site and/or brand monitoring setup, you can check the resulting feeds daily or even create a early warning system with Twitter. It’s nice to watch an article become popular on one network (and thank the original Stumbler/Digger/Redditor, of course) and you can be drafting a follow-up whilst it is hot.

Missed One!

How could I miss out the wonderful TweetScan?

TweetScan gives you a feed of any mentions of your name/brand/blog on Twitter, the microblogging runaway success.

Any more services that you think I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments.


Photo credits to Brian Harrington Spier and Aubrey Arenas respectively.

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del.icio.us Can Be Used To Bookmark Colour Palettes

Posted on 20 Apr 2008 by Andy

I’ve been hunting down some del.icio.us power users to try and learn some new techniques with the tool and they seem to be a bit trickier to track down. I did discover one cool feature from kikipedia that was completely new to me - you can store colour palettes!

A colour palette in del.icio.us

The process uses an extension to the URL format - specify a protocol of “color:” instead of the usual “http:” - and then the rest of the URL is a comma separated list of six digit hex colour codes. Here is the URL for the palette shown above:

Adding a colour palette in del.icio.us

You’ll be prompted for a description and can add tags as normal.

This is a great feature but I could find no mention of it of the del.icio.us blog. I’d like to see ColourLovers add this functionality to their application too, and maybe integration with the Palette Grabber or ColorZilla Firefox extensions.

So, I found one hidden feature of del.icio.us, do you know of any more? Do you know of any applications that use del.icio.us to store colour palettes? I didn’t test with Adobe Kuler because I hate Flash applications. Comment below if you have anything to add!

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How To Use Twitter, TwitterFox, TwitterFeed & Google Reader As An Early Warning System

Posted on 23 Mar 2008 by Andy

There’s more to Twitter than chat. Thanks to its API, loads of third party applications can interact with your information stream.

This article will show you how to use Twitter to alert you to new output from any web service that provides an RSS feed. I use it to check my hosting and page validity as I described in an earlier post.

If you are not already a Twitter user, I suggest you sign up and play around with it for a while as some of the steps involved in the article are a bit involved. If you’re already happy with Twitter and concepts like RSS, then let’s go...

Ingredients

For this howto, you will need:

Step One - Mix All Your Feeds Together

Create a new category in Google Reader and add all of your monitoring feeds to it. If you are familiar with Google Reader, this should be old hat but if not:

  1. Click the RSS icon RSS icon
  2. Select “Add To Google Reader”
  3. When Google Reader displays the feed, use the “Feed Settings” pulldown to add it to a new folder

Repeat these steps for each feed you want to add.

Step Two - Make Your New Folder Public

The folder in Google reader provides its own RSS feed of all the items mixed together but it needs to be public before TwitterFeed can process it.

To do so, go to Google Reader’s settings and choose the tab marked “Tags”. Find your new folder and click the broadcast icon to make it public. A public feed

Finally, click the “view public page” link and locate and copy the URL of the feed for that category. We’re now finished with Google Reader.

Step Three - Create A New Twitter User

We want to create a new user for Twitter that will only ever tweet items from your feed. You’ll later follow the new user from your regular account.

Create your new user in the normal manner but there's no need to find any friends and you might want to make the new user’s feed private. Now, we need to get your regular Twitter username to follow your feed user.

  1. Log into Twitter using your regular username
  2. Point your browser at http://twitter.com/<feed-user-name> and request to follow
  3. Log out of Twitter and back in again as your feed user. Accept the follow request
  4. Log out of Twitter and back in again as your normal user

These steps can be simplified if you have two browsers (perhaps Firefox and Internet Explorer) and can use one for each username.

Step Four - Use TwitterFeed To Tweet Your Feed

TwitterFeed Logo

Use your OpenID to get an account with TwitterFeed.

Use the username and password of your new Twitter user with the URL from your public Google Reader feed to configure TwitterFeed. It has got useful links by the fields to check your input, which are very useful. If an unspecified error occurred, check that your feed really is public.

Step Five - Serve With TwitterFox

TwitterFox is an excellent Firefox add-on for Twitter.

It sits discretely in the status bar and shows a short-lived popup whenever a new tweet comes in, much like GMail notifier. Any incoming alerts from your monitors will interrupt your browsing and you can attend to them right away.

Addendum

Whilst TwitterFeed can handle lots of different feeds for you, I use Google Reader to combine all the different feeds because I use it for all my other feeds and its saves TwitterFeed a little bit of bandwidth.

It’s a good idea to get TwitterFeed to preface each entry with a distinctive marker, like [EMERGENCY] so its tweets stand out.

What feeds do you use with this method? Have you found any great tools that have RSS feeds? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Move Over Twitter, Here Comes FriendFeed

Posted on 17 Mar 2008 by Andy

Wow, fashions change quickly in the social networking world. If you’re still getting to grips with Facebook, you are way behind!

FriendFeed logo

After hyping the phenominally useful Twitter, it seems that the A-list bloggers are really getting behind the useful little feed aggregator. Andy Beard has a couple of posts discussing (and dissing) it. Maki (doshdosh) has been tweeting about it in a more favourable manner.

Hype Or Substance?

This heightened activity is interesting - especially the negative reviews. It means that FriendFeed is acheiving some critical mass since its early beginnings in what is becoming a crowded space.

People are actively trying to find out how their friendfeeds should fit into their personal information architectures - something I’ve have not successfully managed yet. This should become more apparent as the user base grows and more and more technically minded people conduct a few experiments.

For all the hype surrounding it, FriendFeed is not about to become the next Twitter. As Duncan Riley correctly points out, it is just not good for an immediate conversation - Twitter has taken that crown and won’t be giving it up without a fight. Instead, FriendFeed is better for quietly stalking others, friends and foes alike.

What’s It Good For?

Right now, not a lot, the social aspects are still sadly lacking. The beauty of it is as a list of stuff I like. Recording a user’s diggs, del.icio.us bookmarks etc. provides a telling amount of information about them. When the semantic web finally arrives, FriendFeed will be a great source of data.

As people find more practical applications of their FriendFeed data stream and build applications aroundit, it will become another essential tool, just as applications like TwitterFeed and TwitterCal have changed Twitter from a glorified chatroom into an early warning system.

You can stalk me on FriendFeed at http://friendfeed.com/andymurd.

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Social Network Use By Continent

Posted on 26 Feb 2008 by Andy

The Le Monde website has a colourful map of social networking use by continent.

Social Network Map

It’s important for SEOs and website promoters to remember that there is more to life than MySpace and Facebook. This resource can also help you target overseas markets effectively.

There are some interesting points to note:

  • Orkut is the big winner in Latin America.
  • The Russians love Live Journal.
  • Windows Live Spaces is not doing well in any market.

Some Notable Omissions

In Europe, there is no data for Germany or Spain - do they not use social networks yet? According to ComScore, adoption is pretty slow.

Buenos Aires is home to the Spanish language newcomer, Sonico, which TechCrunch reports is gaining new users quickly, so it might make inroads into Spain. It will have stiff competition, as Facebook has just launched a Spanish language version.

There is no data for China, either and this seems to be an oversight by the creators of the map. Read/Write Web certainly found some interesting data.

Japan’s run-away social networking leader Mixi is not represented either, but that may be because the site is invite only.

Language & Localisation

Language seems to be the single biggest factor in choosing a social network. English may be the language of the internet, but for socialising, the ability to use your native language is a vital factor in adoption.

This has big implications for web application developers, as internationalisation is a complex and difficult issue.

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How Many Social Networks?

Posted on 26 Jan 2008 by Andy

Social networking is the buzz of the moment and the number of networks that I’m subscribedto has grown massively over the past few months. I decided it is high time that I got organised and kept a list of those that I am a member of. I’ll even post links to my profiles so you can be my very own internet stalker.

There are a lot of other networks that I joined and left almost immediately - either the signal to noise ratio was too high, or they were too cliquey, or they were just not for me. Anyway, here are the networks that I’ve joined and participate in or monitor regularly:

NameMy ProfileDescription
SpockN/AA people search tool
Linked InprofileSocial networking for professionals
del.icio.usprofileSocial bookmarking
profileGet free icons and earn more by trading with others
FacebookprofileHave you been living under a rock?
Last.fmprofileShare your music preferences and find similar bands
TwitterprofileA microblogging tool to record your thoughts
DiigoprofileA better del.icio.us? Not sure yet
SphinnprofileSEO news aggregator

If you’re a member of one of these networks, send me a message to say hello.

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