Friday, February 29, 2008

Do not doubt the influence of Twitter..or of the Ontario Emperor (on MyBlogLog's "friendfeed")

I know that the popular impression of "Ontario Emperor" is that of a cubicle-dwelling untrendy person with diarrhea of the keyboard. But, for those of you who were fooled by this impression, I have to admit that I'm a little more influential than it may appear at first.

As an example, let me reproduce a tweet that I wrote at 10:36 pm PST on Wednesday, February 27, 2008:

imagining the technical possibilities if mybloglog and friendfeed were to merge...

The thought of the two groups combining simply bowled me over - namely, the concept of joining people in communities centered on various social media artifacts, coupled with the ability to see what the people in these communities were doing, seemed completely irresistable to me. I know that FriendFeed itself has taken off as of late, but what of a FriendFeed/MyBlogLog combo?

Of course, I had to figure that @iankennedy (Ian Kennedy of MyBlogLog) would see my tweet, and that @paultoo (Paul Buchheit of FriendFeed) would see my tweet.

Now, I assumed that my tweet would result in some high-level discussions between Yahoo (who owns MyBlogLog) and the FriendFeed folks. (Think about it - if Yahoo acquired FriendFeed, the cost for Microsoft to acquire Yahoo would definitely become prohibitive, wouldn't it?)

What I didn't expect was that the MyBlogLog folks would read my tweet and immediately spring to action. Look at what Michael Arrington wrote at TechCrunch with a Feburary 29 date - or, in other words, just a little over a day after my tweet:

MyBlogLog, a blogger social network acquired by Yahoo about a year ago, launched v.2 of their service tonight, with a significant new feature....

The new feature is an activity stream of recent activities by all users on various social networks - blog posts, new photos, bookmarks on Delicious, Facebook updates, Twitter updates, etc.

So instead of acquiring FriendFeed, MyBlogLog just adopted the feature that I really liked and made it part of their own service. And they did it quickly. I knew I was influential, but I didn't know that I caused programmers to burn the midnight oil. (Actually, I sometimes do, but that's another story.)

Just to compare, here's my FriendFeed and here's my MyBlogLog activity feed. Now I just have to synchronize the two.

Oh, and Jerry - you're welcome. Let me know if you need any other ideas.

P.S. Of course, Ian Kennedy has assembled a blog post that claims that my tweet did *not* influence MyBlogLog, and that they had been planning this new release all along. This is what he said:

Yesterday was one of the more exciting days of my time here at Yahoo, and I wasn’t even in the office. MyBlogLog shipped a significant new feature which required the whole team to knuckle down and work as one. We hate to ship new code on Fridays so yesterday was the deadline to get something done before Todd & I head out to a week and a half of conferences.

While activity levels were high all week, they really broke into a sprint at 9pm when we all logged on after dinner to quash out our final bugs. I think at one point I had four or five different browser engines running (Firefox, IE, Safari, and even Flock) and next to my Windows PC I was also testing things on my wife’s MacBook.

P.P.S. In addition, the original TechCrunch article that I cited claims that the addition of lifestreams is a natural evolution of all services.

If [the new MyBlogLog feature] sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the startup feature du jour. Facebook first popularized the news feed in late 2006. Later others took the idea and opened it up, creating a news feed around activities on a variety of social networks. FriendFeed is the most popular, and recently raised a $5 million round of financing. Plaxo,, Iminta, Spokeo, ProfileLinker, MyLifeBrand, Fuser, 30Boxes, Mugshot, Readr and Second Brain all have variations. And now, Facebook is planning to open up their NewsFeed and allow users to add other services as well.

Well, that's OK if these people insist on discounting my contribution to the industry, since we all know the truth. I have to stop writing now; I need to re-program some Diebold machines. I figure that since Jerry Yang did this little favor for me, I'll just get him elected President. I just gotta take care of that little "born in Taipei" constitution thingie.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

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Anonymous said...

While we have been working on New with Me for several months before your fateful tweet, do not underestimate the power and influence of the off-hand tweet.

It may have not kicked off an effort but it certainly helped validate that we were headed in the right direction!


Ontario Emperor said...

There's plenty of validation going around, but the important thing is to implement these features in a way that add value, rather than just having a "Hey! We have lifestreaming!" attitude. In MyBlogLog, the lifestreams complement the community features that have already been established on the service.