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Category: network

Who Spreads Contagious Memes to the Network?

Influentials distribute to Networks

Duncan Watts is stirring it up. Fast Company asks “Is The Tipping Point Toast?” Just when everyone had internalized the Tipping Point and the meme of Influentials playing a key role in the distribution of ideas/trends through the network by virtue of their extra large social graphs and reputations. We like the idea of being able to influence the influencers through public relations or marketing projects. We design communications plans to advertise to the special few who are connected to and influence large numbers of people. In a conference room somewhere, someone is designing an ad campaign to appeal specifically to Robert Scoble.

Mass distribution through a network

Watts has created computer models that show that Influentials aren’t key to a trend’s tipping point. Although he does show that they have the effect of magnifying the reach of a trend through the network. Mass marketing that automates sharing will permeate a network through ordinary nodes more often than through influential nodes. The tipping point is the readiness of the network to accept a new trend. Apple’s new MacBook Air is a good example. Influentials like Jason Calacanis and Mike Arrington have stated that they will buy and use the Air. If the MB Air is ahead of the market’s readiness for it, will it make a difference who endorses it? A viral trend contained to early adopters is not a trend.

Is the network ready for the idea that Influentials aren’t as influential as we think? I’m putting that meme out on another node, but how did it get to me? I found it via, I subscribe to Jeremy Keith‘s bookmark flow. I look at what other people bookmark. I added the link to my bookmark flow and clicked over to the article and read about half of it. I forwarded the link to a few people that I thought might find it interesting. This morning during my regular Sunday visit to the news stand I saw a copy of Fast Company magazine with the same article. I bought a copy, and read it all the way through before composing this post. But this idea/meme isn’t a good candidate for trend status. It’s only interesting to a small subset.

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Design Thinking: Zeldman to Buxton to Gillmor

This thread of thought bounced from Zeldman to Buxton to Gillmor.

Jeffrey Zeldman wrote a post about how Apple should hire itself out to fix the awful state of user interface in a number of devices. My immediate reaction was that there’s no reason that good UI should be unique to Apple. Jobs and Ive just start at a different point than most manufacturers. The question really comes down to where the power lies with regard to design thinking in an organization, and at what level design decisions are made (or not made). At Apple the answer is very clear.

This lead me to a lecture by Bill Buxton at Stanford’s HCI program. I wasn’t able to attend in person, but a video of Buxton’s lecture is available through iTunes University. Buxton’s lecture provides the link between industrial design and software interface design– the interface is now part of the form factor. Buxton has been hired to change the design culture of Microsoft. That’s a tall order, but I give them credit for bringing Buxton on board. His ideas about understanding the transitions between states, and the journey from sketching to prototype are very important.

Steve Gillmor chronicles the transition of software applications from the hard drive to the cache / cloud. His latest prediction is that Silverlight will become the rich internet application runtime of choice for the new MacBook Air and the iPhone. Clearly it won’t be Flash or Java. The Ajax apps are already there, but more richness is always better. If Microsoft plays it right, they could find a path into their next incarnation. MS Office may be dead, but Ray Ozzie’s Live Office is yet to be born.

The reason that no phone or computer manufacturer can compete with Apple is they don’t understand what design thinking is or why it’s important to their organization. Phones are designed by a set of pipes, the telecommunications network makes the design decisions. Computer and software interface design is still dominated by the hardware, it’s designed back to front. Until the value of design is understood, and the hardware stops designing the software, Apple will have no competition. It’s all about the ratio of features to features used. Apple leads the field by a mile.

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Air: The Difference between Broadcast and Servers

We can connect to servers wirelessly, and that’s a kind of air. But when we broadcast over the air, it’s entirely different. When broadcasting content over the air, you don’t care how many receivers are taking in the signal. When listening with a web server, the number of requests for content matter a lot.  A good example is what happened to Twitter or many of the blogs during Steve Jobs’s MacWorld keynote. Twitter went down, and many of the blogs covering the event were slow or unreachable. It’s the finite and the infinite, a fundamental difference in the way communications channels scale.

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Erasure or Silence: Steve Gillmor and Rose Mary Woods

Rose Mary Woods 

Coincidence? Rose Mary Woods erases 18 1/2 minutes of the Nixon tapesSteve Gillmor claims that the 7 minutes of quiet at the beginning of a Gang de Gillmor podcast is meaningful silence. Will we ever know for sure if the silence was simply silence– or was erased on purpose.

 Steve Gillmor

Some think that Gillmor concisely explained attention and gestures during the missing minutes. Others believe that Gillmor has never recovered from his youthful dalliance with Nixon’s personal secretary Rose Mary Woods. While Gillmor was never able to reconcile himself to Woods’s politics, the heart wants what it wants. Since that time, erasure and silence have had a strange hold over Gillmor.You can judge for yourself by finding the Gang podcast on Facebook. Gillmor’s absence from the rest of the Internet is simply another example of his obsession with not speaking, not linking and recording silence (erasure). 

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