RESHARE: More hard to follow words, but ones to hear for sure.
Reshared text: Gaining mastery over our destructive propensities, through the exercise of awareness and self-discipline with regard to our body, speech, and mind, frees us from the inner turmoil that naturally arises when our behaviour is at odds with our ideals. In place of this turmoil come confidence, integrity, and dignity - heroic qualities all human beings naturally aspire to.
Reshared text: Given the scale of life in the cosmos, one human life is no more than a tiny blip. Each one of us is a just visitor to this planet, a guest, who will only stay for a limited time. What greater folly could there be than to spend this short time alone, unhappy or in conflict with our companions? Far better, surely, to use our short time here in living a meaningful life, enriched by our sense of connection with others and being of service to them.
Reshared text: President Obama says the magic words: government creating a platform
It's really nice to see President Obama using the metaphor of government as a platform. Here's the money quote in the Rolling Stone interview:
"The free market is the greatest generator of wealth in history. I'm a firm believer in the free market, and the capacity of Americans to start a business, pursue their dreams and strike it rich. But when you look at the history of how we became an economic superpower, that rugged individualism and private-sector dynamism was always coupled with government creating a platform so that everybody could succeed..."
Thinking of government as platform rather than an end-to-end solution provider is a way to resolve the conflict between left and right in politics. It's clear that government is too big, and yet the problems that we need to solve collectively are still bigger. The notion of government as a platform focuses government on doing the things that only government can do, building key infrastructure that will catalyze the private sector.
We saw this platform dynamic with smartphones. Before the iPhone, smart phones worked a lot like government procurement. The manufacturers and the carriers got together in a back room and figured out what they thought people needed. Phones came with 20 or 30 apps. But when Apple figured out how to turn the phone into a platform, there were hundreds of thousands of apps delivering ideas that no one at Apple had imagined.
Examples of government as a platform include the Interstate Highway System, GPS, and open data. (For example, at the local level, governments opening up transit data feeds enables transit data in google maps or 3rd party smartphone apps far more effectively than if governments tried to build all these apps themselves.)
But I think President Obama is right when he also points to social safety nets as part of government acting as a platform. Continuing the quotation above, he says:
"But when you look at the history of how we became an economic superpower, that rugged individualism and private-sector dynamism was always coupled with government creating a platform so that everybody could succeed so that consumers weren't taken advantage of, so that the byproducts of capitalism, like pollution or worker injuries, were regulated. Creating that social safety net has not made us weaker – it's made us stronger. It liberated people to say, "I can move to another state, but if I don't find a job right away, my kids aren't going to go hungry. I can start a business, but if it doesn't work out, I'm going to be able to land on my feet." Making those kinds of commitments to each other – to create safety nets, to invest in infrastructure and schools and basic research – is just like our collective investment in national security or fire departments or police. It has facilitated the kind of risk-taking that has made our economy so dynamic. This is what it means for us to live in a thriving, modern democracy."
I think that's right. But it's important to design these safety nets so that they are enablers rather than replacements for private sector activity. Designing effective platforms is hard, and there's a history all through the computer industry of platform providers choking off innovation on the platform by doing too much.
What Lao Tzu said about government 2500 years ago still stands:
"When the best leader leads, the people say 'We did it ourselves.'"
Reshared text: We think technology should work for you—to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t.
A group of us from Google[x] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment. We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input. So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do.
Please follow along as we share some of our ideas and stories. We’d love to hear yours, too. What would you like to see from Project Glass?
Reshared text: Ever wish you could see the strands of genetic material that make you...you? You can, and there's no fancy lab equipment required. In this NOVA video short, learn how to extract your own DNA using just a few common household items.
"I've always believed the web is more than a network of machines, it's a network of minds that's evolving into a collective intelligence and global conscious. Look at this, everyday you see it. It's extraordinary... We see this in moments crisis and tragedy and joy. And it is the web that unites us in sentiment and action." ~+Eric Schmidt
Reshared text: The creation of a more peaceful and happier society has to begin from the level of the individual, and from there it can expand to one's family, to one's neighborhood, to one's community and so on.
Let's understand what is going on here. When a merchant asks you "debit or credit" at checkout, this impacts how much money the merchant collects. If you say "credit" the bank gets a percentage of the transaction (say 3%). But if you say "debit" there is no bank fee to the merchant. This is what the merchant would prefer as it appears like "cash" to them. (this is also why you are starting to see two price listings for gas "cash / credit")
So, when you use the debit functionality, the bank is not receiving any compensation for that service, which is fine as they may have felt that providing that service to their customers was a requirement of banking. Bank of America (my bank in full disclosure) apparently has changed their mind. (we shall see how the free market reacts)
But I don't want government telling me to be angry, how about explaining it instead? Saying, if you are a BofA customer, call and explain why you feel it is unfair that they charge you for that service. (and fox, instead of making it a piece designed to make the reader upset, try educating... oh wait, I think I see why social media will be so important)
Reshared text: There are thousands of Googlers on Google+, naturally. I've got more than 250 in one circle, from Google+ leadership to product managers, engineers, Web advocates and developer relations. Here are some of the sharpest and most fun people you'll find who impact this service and many others you use every day.
The problem with self service checkout is that people have to queue to checkout, and we people are slow and easily frustrated. The checkout (and bagging) should go on with each cart as you walk the store, you request a final review before you leave that presents you with a more useful receipt (one that helps you verify you got everything) and all you do is pay and leave.
RESHARE: This post from +Tom Anderson talks of a different world...a world where conversations and discussions occur with groups of individuals with different communication styles... wait that is not so different than what goes on for each of us...
I guess it is the scale that differentiates the worlds, but the core statement is that we need to foster a true dialog and right now is the best chance for building that capability is here.
Commenting on any post that already has more than 10 responses is painful. I want to follow the conversations but it is a series of individual thoughts that have implied connections but nothing obvious to the casual observer. This needs to be addressed to bring comments up to the caliber of the post.
One of the first things I sent in via that "feedback" button on the bottom right was to implement nested comments and an example of this is reddit, where in addition to nesting, there is ranking (which we have here with the +1 -- use it). When comments are ranked, you as a late arriver can quickly see the "best" thread to follow.
So, hit that +1 often, and use the feedback, and engage.
Ok, back to waiting for costco to open so they can fix my tires.
Reshared text: A few days ago, I suggested that the "best feature" of Google+ may be the users themselves (http://bit.ly/nm84Dv). Could the type of users assembled here be changing in the last few days? Well, opening up to the "public" (vs. requiring that users receive an invite from a current member) has resulted in a few "objective" changes.
Check out socialstatistics.com -- this site, built by a third party developer, tracks the circle counts of Google+ users. Before G+ opened to the public, I was in the #10 position, just about to pass +Leo Laporte & +Robert Scoble. Then, in one 24 hour period, I shot up to #5, growing by 28,000 people in one day. (Formerly I'd been growing by about 400-800 people per day, depending on what I posted, perhaps). Put simply, this shows that a ton more people are signing up. (On I side note, I think all of us are going to be ousted by Hollywood celebrities and musicians who are naturally growing even faster. +Briney Spears grew by 98,000 in one day -- 3 times as fast as me. Hey Brit!)
In any case, less objectively, what does this mean for Google+? I'm not so sure. So far I've seen a lot more one word, short phrase responses to my posts. I've seen a little more spam (maybe 3 or 4 comments out of 100). I've seen a little more "Tom, please fix MySpace!" (maybe 1 out of a 100) And I've seen quite a bit more "internet" spelling. :-) (hehe) Other G+ users have already noted the quality of responses on my Facebook posts compared to my Google+ posts: http://bit.ly/neP9jG If we don't want that quality of response to decline here at G+, what can we do about it? Any thoughts?
The culture of the community can influence some things -- i.e. do as I do. If we continue to behave the way we have -- engaging with each other in more meaningful ways, then perhaps the "newbies" will catch on and do it as well. But I think this only goes so far. This would only work if G+ was growing in a more measured fashion, instead of like gang busters, which it appears to be.
So that makes me wonder what sort of "features" or tweaks to the comment section might encourage longer & more thoughtful responses? Maybe a way to simply sort comments by some combination of their length, +1 counts, or a poster's "reputation"? Facebook does something like this with its public comments product -- i.e. the plug-in that websites like Techcrunch use to allow people to comment with their FB profiles lets you sort by social ranking. But to do something like that, you sorta have to introduce "nested" comment threads, otherwise people will be responding to each other and things will not be in order once they've been sorted by "ranking" rather than chronology.
So if Google cared about this -- and I'm not sure they do -- would they be willing to change the way comments work on all G+ content to try and encourage better conversation? Maybe it's something worth testing only on large users like me. (Hint +Vic Gundotra+Natalie Villalobos -- I don't mind being a guinea pig.) Testing on some big users would mean that it wouldn't disrupt the flow of G+ but one could see how it works / feels in practice. Anyway, just a thought... But this thought comes from a very deep place. As some of you can probably tell, I've really enjoyed my time here, and I'm a little worried it's going to be harder to enjoy if I post and I get 500 responses that say "RIGHT ON TOM!!!!" and then my comments are closed (since we are limited to 500 comments per post).
When I say I'm not sure Google cares about this issue, that wasn't meant as a dig. Wanting to talk about things the way I do is just my preference, and it's certainly not shared by everyone. Maybe, like Gandalf's watch, what I'm hoping for is an anachronism? Is it anachronistic to want this kind of communication in today's Internet, with so many people online, and communities needing to grow large enough to fuel the business purposes for which they were created?
Note: I'm posting this in the middle of the night to try and slow down the responses to it and see if we can get some more thoughtful ones. I haven't truly thought through how this "problem" can be addressed. Frankly I'm too darn tired (only slept 3 hours last night), and hey, worrying about these kinds of thing isn't my job anymore. :-) So really, I'm only raising the question. Hope someone has good answers. :-) And, yes, I know that pairing images with my stories often creates two dialogues about one post. But hey, doing that is kinda my little invention here on G+. I've seen people complain about this, but usually the image comments explode at first and then die down a bit. And I like to keep the discussion "light" at the same time it's serious.
Reshared text: Here's a few tips and tricks on the freshly launched Google+ search system.
• "Sparks" aren't gone, they're now just way more awesome. We include them, appropriately ranked, along with people and posts from Google+ in your searches.
• We have several ways to control and narrow your results. You can restrict your query to Everything, People, Google+ posts, or just Sparks. You can also switch between "Best" and "Most Recent" which can give very different results.
• You can save a search by using the "Save this Search" button to track your favorite interests. This is like how Sparks worked, but now you get the the best of the Web and the best of the Google+ community in one stream.
• Searches have shareable URLs: You can send someone a link like https://plus.google.com/s/donuts and it will work. In fact they won't have to be signed up to Google+ or even signed in for the search to work.
I strongly encourage everyone to watch this speech (20 minutes). It got going for me about 8 minutes in. Key (approximate) times: 08:08 Begins talking about direction. 11:29 Nice point about the tax code 12:50 !!!! 14:22 Begins addressing "class warfare" 16:30 Best quote And now for the G+ question... who out there is talking Politics? That appears to be a community that is under represented, anyone out there talking it up?
Not very many hits, but the I followed the first link to a video of a kid doing the same thing...(for posterity, I am going to link to the video that was the number one result, but only had 38 views at the time of this writing).
I know this reference, and got it right away, but yet searching for the phrase "pulling a peter griffin" did not have a bigger result. I believe it will in the future.
Reshared text: First copies of the UK (left) and US (right) editions. Not sure why the UK ones are always thicker. I've always been interested in the different approaches taken by US and UK publishers to cover art. Both of them know their markets and do a fine job of reaching them, but evidently tastes are very different.
Reshared text: Someone once asked the Dalai Lama what surprises him most. This was his response:
“Man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”
RESHARE: This example of commitment helps explain why Apple did so well upon his return.
Reshared text: Icon Ambulance
One Sunday morning, January 6th, 2008 I was attending religious services when my cell phone vibrated. As discreetly as possible, I checked the phone and noticed that my phone said "Caller ID unknown". I choose to ignore.
After services, as I was walking to my car with my family, I checked my cell phone messages. The message left was from Steve Jobs. "Vic, can you call me at home? I have something urgent to discuss" it said.
Before I even reached my car, I called Steve Jobs back. I was responsible for all mobile applications at Google, and in that role, had regular dealings with Steve. It was one of the perks of the job.
"Hey Steve - this is Vic", I said. "I'm sorry I didn't answer your call earlier. I was in religious services, and the caller ID said unknown, so I didn't pick up".
Steve laughed. He said, "Vic, unless the Caller ID said 'GOD', you should never pick up during services".
I laughed nervously. After all, while it was customary for Steve to call during the week upset about something, it was unusual for him to call me on Sunday and ask me to call his home. I wondered what was so important?
"So Vic, we have an urgent issue, one that I need addressed right away. I've already assigned someone from my team to help you, and I hope you can fix this tomorrow" said Steve.
"I've been looking at the Google logo on the iPhone and I'm not happy with the icon. The second O in Google doesn't have the right yellow gradient. It's just wrong and I'm going to have Greg fix it tomorrow. Is that okay with you?"
Of course this was okay with me. A few minutes later on that Sunday I received an email from Steve with the subject "Icon Ambulance". The email directed me to work with Greg Christie to fix the icon.
Since I was 11 years old and fell in love with an Apple II, I have dozens of stories to tell about Apple products. They have been a part of my life for decades. Even when I worked for 15 years for Bill Gates at Microsoft, I had a huge admiration for Steve and what Apple had produced.
But in the end, when I think about leadership, passion and attention to detail, I think back to the call I received from Steve Jobs on a Sunday morning in January. It was a lesson I'll never forget. CEOs should care about details. Even shades of yellow. On a Sunday.
To one of the greatest leaders I've ever met, my prayers and hopes are with you Steve.
There has been a lot of chatter out there over the "Real Name" policy of Google+
Then +Madonna . hit, and here come the comments again. Looks like "celebrities" get a pass. While I agree to that, what I don't agree with is "celebrities" having others do their posting for them. Look at this snip from M's posts.
+Jeffrey Steele seems to thinks that people should post in the first person.
(oh, and could whoever is posting for M please pass along my belated birthday wish)
Most of these folks don't actually PARTICIPATE or put up good content. Heck, the number one guy hasn't even posted at all.
While it's great for my ego and brand to be on this list I really wish I had never seen these numbers. Why not? It puts in place a bad game.
See, anytime there's numbers there's a game that evolves.
Humans love numbers and they love games.
So, why is this a bad game?
1. You can't win the game. Why? The deck is stacked against you. More on that in a second. 2. Since this game is one of the only ones on Google+ to play, entire sites like http://socialstatistics.com/ have already sprung up to play. 3. It doesn't reinforce good behavior. Why isn't +Trey Ratcliff #1 instead of Mark Zuckerberg? Trey actually puts freaking awesome content up nearly every day and PARTICIPATES here. While Trey is on the list, he deserves more followers than I do and certainly more than anyone else on the top 10. At least if Google were paying attention to the community that's building here.
What would have been better? How about some sort of participation score? Klout gets a lot closer to this than a follower number score. Why? Because Klout looks at how much resharing happens, how active you are, in addition to how many followers you have (and it even measures real followers vs. bots).
So, why is the deck stacked against you?
See, when the first people joined the system, it studied our following behavior. Truth is most heavy social networking users, like me, "collect" the biggest "personal brands." You know, folks like Leo Laporte, Zuckerberg, Brin, Pirillo, Kawasaki, etc.
These are NOT necessarily the best examples of users of a system and they get followed on each system (I am following them on every single social network out there that I can find them on).
The neat thing is with circles I can start putting them into their own circle, so they don't pollute my other circles. Look at +Leo Laporte for instance. His main stuff he's been doing here lately is just location checkins. No value at all and just adds noise to the system (that's another problem Google needs to fix, why these things need to be in our feed just makes no sense to me). But I follow Leo because, well, he's Leo and I've been following him since 1995 when I helped him run his chat room when he was on KGO radio back then.
So, where am I going with this?
This "most followed" list is actually very corrosive to Google+'s reputation. Why? It's a list that many people will use to check in the health of the system.
If Leo Laporte and Sergey Brin don't use Google+, that must mean it's not being used very much at all, right? That's the way journalists will look at this.
The deck is stacked against you.
Why do I say the deck is stacked against you? Because, even if you are brilliant and put the best content possible into the system (say that you're a better photographer than Trey Ratcliffe and participate here more) there's no way you'll get more followers. Why not? Because each new user that comes in here is given a bunch of people that Google+ suggests to follow. This suggestion list is algorithmic (which is an improvement over how Twitter did theirs) but because this list is based on the following behavior of those who came before you, there's no way new users will ever catch up. Heck, if +Ashton Kutcher can't even get onto the top of the list you KNOW it's stacked against YOU.
I would buy Klout. Put a Klout score on everyone's profile.
Then I would split the suggested lists into topics. Sort of like Quora has different topics, and different recommended follows. Look at Quora, while it recommends me for Tech http://www.quora.com/Technology?q=Tech it does NOT recommend me for being a wine expert http://www.quora.com/Wine?q=Wine and the Wine experts are different than those it suggests for cars, etc.
Truth is Quora has its own Klout-style score that it's keeping for each user (it's mostly invisible, although if you're active on the system long enough you can figure out where you stand in each topic).
Anyway, this is all a way of saying, "hey Google, we need a new game here and we need it fast." Oh, and +Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten (the guy who keeps that top most followed list here) is there any way to come up with a better list that more accurately reflects who actually is putting good content here and getting engagement rather than who is just merely popular and a usual suspect?
For instance, http://www.recommendedusers.com/ has a better idea (although, because it's human done, this list is imperfect for other reasons) by putting up recommended followers that are more based on both topic, and on actual participation. Thanks +Alireza Yavari for doing that list, although I should be on the journalist list (I do more tech journalism than most other people, for instance) which shows this list is incomplete because it relies on humans to add to the list.
What do you think? It'd be interesting to see what community managers think, too.