Round up 13 Sept

The news over the last few days has been about some nice large purchases. From a corporate PoV, Siebel being bought by Oracle is big news, a consolidation of CRM services. In other web stuff, eBay buying Skype is not something I read anywhere, but I can see the synergy – the market comes to life and online bartering takeas a new dimension. I can see the conference call auctions now….’ and it’s not going for 50 pounds, not even for 30 pounds, but all of this for 20 pounds only. Buy it now and I’ll throw this special edition widget for free’ ;o)

on the 37Signals Blog, a post about the complexity that is signing up with Flickr now they are with Yahoo; the sign up has changed from 3 questions to 16. Read the (long) list of comments for good stuff. My accounts are still demerged and I have no intention of rejoining them in the near future until the mess is sorted. But I don’t get why the Yahoo email requirement always causes an issue – still don’t have one, don’t need one. All my Yahoo service emails go to gmail. At the bottom of the current list of comments is the following from Bryan:

But what companies need to realize is that that information is utterly and completely useless. Users put in false information wherever they can. They’ll check any checkbox, hit any submit button, and gleefully ignore any TOS because they know everyone else does the same. The only thing you can trust is what the user cares about, which is damn little. Everything else is a WOMBAT – a Waste Of Money, Brains And Time. While the corporate types imagine they’re collecting lucrative information it’s really a false metric of success that only encourages harmful policies.

This is completely true – I very very rarely put real info in any of the ‘marketing questions’ in any form I fill in. A conversation today demonstrated this – we were discussing the information we had received from a web sign-up form on one of the sites that I work on, that asked people how they had heard of the site. The most common answer (over 80%) was something that had a very low percentage of responses in offline surveys. Looking at the list of possible answers on the website, you could see that the response was near the top of the list – obviously the easiest one to pick. But surprisingly, you do get good info from such signups – people don’t always think to the next level – why you are giving info and what people do with it.

Another blog entry that provides a great conversation in the comments is from Shelley, commenting on the recent UK conference Our Social World. There was concern about the usual suspects speaking, the lack of women speakers, the lack of diversity in the speakers and a whole load of arguments for and against the list/conference in the comments. There’s still some chicken/egg syndrome taking palce here – the ‘regulars’ can attract an audience, in that people can find out about their previous gigs and peoples reactions to them. A conference like Blogher can attract people for a different reason, but I coud guarantee there was still the ‘I read this person’s blog and want to see them’ reaction for some signups. It slowly looks like it is getting to the point where a mixed bag (regulars/new people) will be able to attract the wider audience without losing the selling point. In a follow up post, Shelley comments

Either one enters an online discussion to debate the merits of whatever topic is the focus, or we enter a conversation to defend or support a friend. When we mix the two, we put those who have not met others, personally, at a disadvantage. This, also, becomes a failure in social software.

To me, that’s a ‘flaw’ in social humans; we are far more likely to read, comment and discourse with people we know or have met and will always mix the two – pure objectivity is rare.

Whilst on the usual suspects, there’s a Geek Dinner in London in December for the return of Robert Scoble. So far, the list is growing at a faster rate than it did the last time, and the signees are pretty similar to the first ones the last time. I’ve watched a few of these grow, and you can see a long tail effect as the information ripples out from a core set of people who read certain blogs and then widens the audience to different people, depending on the attaction.

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