Facebook’s Timeline: A catalog of nothing

By Kevin Kelleher
February 17, 2012

We have seen the past, and it doesn’t work.

Over the past few weeks, Facebook has been rolling out Timeline, its effort to remake its members’ profile pages into scrapbooks that, like nearly everything published on the social web, is told in a reverse chronology. While redesigns always inspire grumbling, the discontent seems particularly strong this time — 70 percent of users surveyed say they just don’t like it, and Facebook’s own blog page announcing Timeline is filled with complaints in the comments.

Five 2011 tech earthquakes

December 30, 2011

By John C Abell
The opinions expressed are his own.

Pick a year: It’s easy to look back and convince yourself That Was The Year That Was in tech, partly because the pace of change is so rapid and partly because we so readily embrace and then quickly depend on things that are completely different. Consider this: When the class of 2012 was applying to college, there was no iPhone. Until those students were just about at the end of their  junior years, there was no iPad. Both of these nascent devices now define the mobile Internet, which is where all the action is.

A more controlled stumbling with StumbleUpon channels

December 6, 2011

It’s been two-and-half years since online social media service StumbleUpon hit the eject button from eBay, its one-time corporate parent.

Congress plans Facebook “hackathon” to boost engagement with public

November 17, 2011

Top legislators on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. House of Representatives said on Thursday they will work with Facebook engineers and independent developers to make it easier for the public to engage with lawmakers and follow the legislative process.

IBM knows a thing or two about shoes. Retailers, take note.

November 16, 2011

By Nicola Leske
In the fickle world of fashion, the skill to predict what will be en vogue next is invaluable to retailers around the world.
While some will argue that it takes style and expertise to predict what customers will want to wear even before they know it, IBM begs to differ.
It comes down to science, specifically IBM’s analytics software.
Take shoes for example, in particular the height of heels.
“We used IBM software to identify those who are the influencers online by searching the web for blogs about shoes,” said John Buscemi.
“We found tens of thousands and narrowed it down to those who were linked to a lot and who in turn linked to a lot of other people…if you had a map they would sit at the center of the social network,” Buscemi said.
According to that analysis, heels are coming down.
“Key trend-watching bloggers between 2008 and 2009 wrote consistently about heels from five to eight inches, but by mid 2011 they were writing about the return of the kitten heel and the perfect flat from Jimmy Choo and Louboutin,” said Trevor Davis, a consumer expert with IBM’s Global Business Services.
IBM said the data could be used by shoe manufacturers and retailers looking for insight into the kind of shoes to manufacture and sell in the coming season — and could potentially put fashion consultants out of business.
By the way, high heels have traditionally been linked to a falling economy — think high heel pumps during the Great Depression and stilettos following the dot-com bust a decade ago.
But this time the decline of the heel may not be a sign of an economic upturn but a grudging acceptance of a long road ahead best to be taken on more modest shoes.
“Usually, in an economic downturn, heels go up and stay up – as consumers turn to more flamboyant fashions as a means of fantasy and escape,” Davis said.
“This time, something different is happening — perhaps a mood of long-term austerity is evolving among consumers sparking a desire to reduce ostentation in everyday settings.”

Perrier wants to tell you where to go out tonight

November 14, 2011

By James Ledbetter
The views expressed are his own.

Last year on a drizzly Seattle morning I visited the corporate headquarters of Starbucks to talk about social media. At the time, Starbucks had about 2 million of what were then called “fans” on its Facebook page. That audience was both large and engaged enough, a company representative said, that Starbucks had recently been approached by another firm that wanted to advertise specifically on the Starbucks Facebook page. Starbucks declined the offer, but only after serious consideration. “We had to decide if we really wanted to be on that side of the publishing business,” the representative told me.

The Cain mutiny

November 1, 2011

Everyone is now calling Herman Cain toast because of poorly-handled revelations that the apparent GOP presidential front-runner was the object of a couple of sexual harassment lawsuits that were apparently settled back when he was a lobbyist in the 1990s.

How to generate media value: Fire your CEO

October 28, 2011

Some outfit called General Sentiment has set about the task of evaluating the media value of top global brands and then ranking those companies accordingly. Some brands made their way up the list because they ousted their head honcho.

Facebook makes us embrace creepy

By Kevin Kelleher
October 19, 2011

By Kevin Kelleher
The opinions expressed are his own.

Sean Parker was looking edgy. Maybe it was because he was sitting in for Mark Pincus, who bowed out of this week’s Web 2.0 Summit because of Zynga’s pre-IPO quiet period. Or because this was a chance to show a large gathering of his peers that Justin Timberlake, no matter how smooth, could never be a Sean Parker. Or maybe it was just because he was Sean Parker.