The Public Flow

I’ve been wandering recently, in my thoughts, around and through something I’m calling “The Public Flow.”

It started as a vague concept, triggered by conversations about “The Flow” – the moving stream of information that’s always there, described by Stowe Boyd, Kevin Marks and others. Doc Searls calls it “The Live Web.” But some of that flow is obscured, private, shared among friends and our web contacts or inside walled garden systems. I think what’s most interesting is the portion of The Flow that’s happening out in public – The Public Flow.

People have always spoken in public about their lives and what’s happening around them. Most of it has always happened outside formal community forums such as the Town Council.  These conversations happen in the pub, in the bleachers of our kids soccer games, and just about everwhere. We’re all having public conversations all the time, where the only privacy is that of proximity – you really don’t know who that is sitting at the next table, and usually you really don’t care. Now many of those conversations have moved to Twitter, or Facebook, or someday on Google Wave. Some of those are open conversations that are easily found, searched, and aggregated and some aren’t.

My friend Laura Fitton, aka Pistachio spoke about Twitter at Google back in April. In discussing the organic flow of information on Twitter, she made this point:

When you go out and do focus group research and explicit market research, people freeze up a little bit and don’t quite get the right natural answer about how they really feel about a product, how they really experience a problem that a product might solve, how they really interact with information. But when someone bothers to tweet about it, that’s a very natural, authentic thing, so the quality of data and the volume of data flowing through it are potentially extremely valuable, and I think we’re just beginning to see good search tools…

What will happen as we develop better tools for understanding and participating in this Public Flow? How will life change? How will business change? How will our communities change?

How will it change us?

How to use Twitter in tech support

Twitter is getting another big wave of adoption and many people are asking again what it’s for. How could short broadcasted text messages limited to 140 characters be useful? What utility could it possible have?

For tech support organizations I think it’s very useful, in two primary ways:

  1. for “eavesdropping” on people who are talking about your company or product, and starting a conversation with them
  2. as a signaling mechanism – a way to get a short, simple status message or announcements to an interested group.
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Commercial email, or even tweets, aren’t necessarily spam

  Spam in Twitter is becoming a problem. Full 75% of my new followers yesterday were some kind of crass commercial, “I’ll show you how to twitter for money” or “check out my new multi-level marketing scheme.”

But some folks are using twitter for their business in some useful and interesting way. The latest I’ve learned about is a bunch of food twitters, including @chezspencergo, just profiled on
Continue reading “Commercial email, or even tweets, aren’t necessarily spam”

Facebook Developers | Facebook Developers News

Congratulations to my friends at Seesmic for being at the front of the Facebook Open Stream…

To get things started we’ve worked alongside a few beta partners to test the Facebook Open Stream API. For example, Seesmic Desktop is now a full-featured client for the stream and Adobe has created a simple stream Notifier using the AIR development framework.

[From Facebook Developers | Facebook Developers News]

I’ve been using Seesmic Desktop since it’s launch, and loving it. It doesn’t support all the services I’d like, and maybe could have a few other features, but what they have implemented has been done well. Keep it up!