Archive for April 2009
I just got the following email from Vine.net which I spoke about yesterday in Untangling the Vine:
Thank you for requesting an invitation to participate in Microsoft Vine. Invitations will be distributed gradually over the next two months until we reach beta capacity. We will start by adding our pilot communities and then expand based on a first-come, first-served basis. Once you receive an invitation in your e-mail in-box and join Microsoft Vine, you will be able to invite the people you care about immediately.
We want to use this beta process to listen, learn, and make improvements before broadly releasing the first version. We hope you will share your feedback, stories about how you use it, and ideas about how you’d like to use it in the future. To share this information directly with the Microsoft Vine product development team, click here http://mymfe.microsoft.com/Microsoft%20Vine/Feedback.aspx?formID=47. You can access this link as well as answers to frequently asked questions on http://www.vine.net.
Make of that what you will!
Yesterday Microsoft announced a new service called Vine at http://www.vine.net and it caused quite a stir both in the blogosphere and Twittosphere. As one might expect of a web-centric product announcement from Microsoft it took quite a lambasting on Twitter, the general attitude there being “its a Twitter clone – typical Microsoft, late to the game as usual” although the reaction on various blogs was a little kinder (even Michael Arrington at TechCrunch was relatively upbeat about it). Some of the more reasoned and objective comments that I saw included:
Some are comparing the service to Twitter, but I don’t exactly see the connection other than it lets you communicate with your friends, which could pretty much be said of any social network, email service, or telephone
What’s cool about Vine is that it’s not trying to be an alternative to Twitter, but Microsoft has clearly sat back and looked at one of the most popular uses of Twitter–spreading important information quickly among a users network. Twitter does this now, but if an earthquake hits California, getting any valuable information is like trying to listen to the Fire Chief give instructions while everyone else in the room is talking about the great sushi they just ate.
I totally agree with those opinions, Vine is definitely not intended to compete with Twitter. Given that Vine collects information from many sources (including Twitter) it seems to be closer to Friendfeed than Twitter although even that is not an apples-to-apples comparison; anyone that took the time to read the fact sheet that Microsoft provided would have learned that with Vine one can:
“Stay in touch with family and friends, be informed when someone you care about needs help. Get involved to create great neighborhoods, communities or causes”
“Organize people into groups so it’s easy to send information to them all at once”
“Microsoft Vine is appropriate for any small group of people who want to stay in touch, informed and involved”
Communities. Causes. Stay informed. Send Information. None of those phrases spring to my mind when I think of Twitter; Twitter is a mass-broadcast mechanism which Vine, clearly, is not intended to be. From what I’ve read so far the central premise of Vine is to organise content per group and that is what really excites me about it. I talk about the power of groups quite a lot on this blog and fundamentally believe that the notion of self-organising affinity groups has much more potential for how we use the web in the future than is currently prevalent in the plethora of social networking tools out there right now. That’s the point that I was trying to make when in February 2009 I wrote:
I’m fascinated by how the implicit and explicit behaviour of us and our social circles might be used to provide us with a better online experience in the future
Reading between the lines it seems as if Vine is intended to be used on a locality basis and that’s a great example of where the power of a group (in this case a group of people that live in the same locale) can join together to provide an overall better experience by sharing information pertinent to that locale. I have long believed that the potential of locality-based services and networks has not been tapped and I confidently predict that such services will be the cornerstone of the next evolution of the web.
Whether or not Vine is a key to unlock the latent power of affinity groups only time will tell and I myself will not be able to learn much for a long time yet given it is only going to be available in the US initially. Nonetheless I’ll be keeping a keen eye on developments
In amongst all the web activities and other new features in the April Windows Live update there was one small but significant update that has gone unheralded but which has fixed a problem that has plagued many Windows Live users since wave 3 went live in November 2008; the scourge of network invite spam.
I’m sure many of you will have experienced the same problem that I have, that of recurring network invites from people that you have never met and who don’t even bother to introduce themselves. I used to routinely decline the invites but the problem became so prevalent that instead I chose to simply ignore the requests which has resulted in my having a pretty big backlog of 704 invites at the time of writing:
We do of course have the option in our communication preferences to specify who can send you network invitations and one of the options is “No one”:
Unfortunately a bug existed that meant for some people (including myself) specifying “No one” had absolutely no effect and the river of network invites just kept on coming. Happily this has been fixed in the latest batch of updates and you can now set this setting to “People in your extended network” or “No one” and it will behave as advertised.
You will need to visit http://profile.live.com/Communication/ to set your preference accordingly even if you have done so in the past. I set mine to “People in your extended network” this morning and the seemingly endless flow of network invites has now, happily, ceased. Now all I need is a means to ignore my existing 704 invites in one fell swoop so to anyone reading from the Windows Live team, consider that a feature request!
f you’ve checked your What’s New feed at http://home.live.com or your profile at http://profile.live.com in the last few hours then you may have noticed that many new web activities have been introduced and the headline grabber is most definitely Facebook which I have added to my profile:
Strangely though Facebook now seems to have disappeared from the list of available web activities:
Notice how the list of web activities appears in alphabetical order but Facebook aint there, neither is it in the “Most popular” box whereas it was earlier on today.
Looks as though there are some teething problems. Let’s check later!
UPDATE. Apparently when you add a web activity to your profile then it disappears from the list at http://profile.live.com/WebActivities/. Thanks to Dare who replied in the comments to let me know.
I’ve just spotted a small new feature at http://home.live.com. You can now update your personal status message (PSM) at http://home.live.com without a full postback (i.e. without a page refresh). In other words, its quicker.
Previously this behaviour existed at http://profile.live.com but at http://home.live.com you were sent to a completely separate page; happily the functionality from our profile now exists at ‘Home’ as well. Good news.
Linked Live IDs are a little known feature of Windows Live so now that the Windows Live community clubhouse is in full swing I thought I’d draw some attention to them and perhaps suggest some ways that the feature could evolve in the future.
Linking Live IDs enables you to seamlessly switch between them while on Windows Live web properties. Once you have linked together your Live IDs (more on that in a minute) you can easily switch between them using the dropdown menu that appears in the top-right of every Windows Live page. Observe:
This is a very useful feature if you have multiple Live IDs (which many of us do). I also have my mum’s Live ID as one of my Linked Live IDs which means that when I’m giving her IT support on Windows Live over the phone (as I frequently do) then I can pretend that I am logged on as her and see exactly what she is seeing which is very useful indeed.
So, how do you link your Live IDs together? Well, its very simple. You can either select “Link other accounts” from the menu depicted above or simply click on this link: https://account.live.com/managelinks.aspx which (at the time of writing) will take you straight to the page where you manage your Linked Live IDs. Once there the process is self-explanatory.
So that is Linked Live IDs. They’re very useful and I use them a lot however there’s potential for them being used a lot lot more across Windows Live and other Microsoft properties than they are today. Currently Linked Live IDs are only accessible via Windows Live; I can’t, for example, access my Linked Live IDs from www.mesh.com which would be rather handy. Neither can I do the same from any of the Windows Live Essentials tools (i.e. Messenger, Toolbar, Photo Gallery, Mail, Writer).
Moreover I’d like the ability to switch between my Linked Live IDs on my Windows Mobile phone; I have Windows Live for Windows Mobile installed which enables me to get full syncing for my email and log into Messenger, it would be cool if I could simply switch to my Linked Live IDs there as well.