Thursday, February 26, 2009

Twitter Makes Me Smarter

Even though I've been aware of Twitter for the past 2 years, I've been using it in earnest only in the past couple of weeks. As I've tweeted and followed people something amazing has happened -- I've become smarter.

One way really smart people succeed (I'm conceited enough to consider myself somewhat smart) is that they surround themselves with smarter people. The smart person, even one who is an expert in his own domain, realizes that there are people out their who know more. The smart person is open to new ideas and he tries to leverage the experience of others.

One distinct downside to the "smart people" strategy is that you have to be in a place where you can encounter the smart types. Further you have to work at cultivating personal and professional relationships over time so that you can build a useful network of smart people. Such things require careful planning, social skills, and a bit of luck of being at the right place and the right time. I tend to fall short in all three areas.

Twitter however has captured the imagination of some of the Internet's leading thinkers and entrepreneurs. They're all seemingly happy to share in realtime their thoughts, ideas, interests, what they're reading, and where they are.

My new "friend" Steve Case, the founder of AOL and former Chairman of AOL Time Warner, has ordered the new version of Kindle book reader; Kevin Rose, the co-founder of Digg is fascinated by speech-to-text software created by AT&T Labs that produces natural sounding voices; and Joe Trippi (Howard Dean's campaign chief) is passionate about democracy in Zimbabwe.

Through Twitter I'm learning about venture capitalism from Fred Wilson; the inner workings of Google from Matt Cutts, and Kara Swisher is keeping me up-to-date on what she's finding out interviewing Silicon Valley executives.

Many of these people on Twitter are letting their guard down and being themselves. Since most people let anyone follow them there is a social contract of sorts that exists in Twitterverse that people will treat each other with mutual respect and not misuse people's tweets. Will this last or will one Twitter scandal cause people to retreat back into their offices? I hope not, but in the meanwhile I feel privileged to be sharing the thoughts of some of the Net's brightest minds.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Big Whopper Flameout

It started with so much promise and ended with a flame-out.

Burger King had a cool idea in its new Whopper Sacrifice campaign: a) install an application on your Facebook page b) sacrifice/remove 10 of your friends from your social graph c) get a coupon for a free whopper.

The strategy shows that Burger King (or at least its ad agency) totally gets Web 2.0. In fact I would even call the execution brilliant. The notion of deciding which “friends” to eliminate turns the whole social networking idea on its head. Even better as you sacrifice “friends” Facebook’s newsfeed lets the world know which victims don’t make the cut.

And then the big let down. First to claim the coupon Burger King makes you fill out a form that asks for everything but your first born’s left foot. Name, Cell Number, E-mail address, Postal Address, Gender. Come on guys isn’t the fact that you have access to my Facebook profile enough?

But here’s the real kicker. After all that work BK tells me that my coupon will be delivered in two to four weeks. WTF?!

How could people who came up with this great idea be such morons?

Users of online media want immediate gratification ie. a coupon on the web screen, via e-mail or on SMS. Telling me that a coupon will come in a month is outrageous and ridiculous.

The Whopper may be flame broiled but someone’s brain at BK is fried.