Monthly Archives: March 2011

Disco from Google is “Battle Los Angeles” in group chat

I am relating the launch of the group messaging app Disco from Google with Battle Los Angeles for two reasons.  Disco launched the same weekend I saw the movie and Google made a maneuver much like I saw in the movie.

While this comes directly from a company that Google purchased, Slide, they only made the first release available on iOS devices.  Most would not even notice the lack of Android due to the way it is being marketed.  A brilliant move by Google in my opinion.

In the movie Battle Los Angeles a first wave is deployed to being colonization by direct ground force attack.  Google made this move by getting Disco into the AppStore and approved long before the second, stronger wave, comes along.

The second and stronger wave for Disco, is Google building Disco directly into the Android operating systems that get distributed by the carriers as the group messaging solution.  This compares to the thought in the movie where there was no air capabilities by the invading forces. They suddenly appear and are stronger than anticipated. By getting a ground force of users on a leading phone operating system, Disco can set a foothold into bringing together even more Google services user rely on.

Disco also lacks many advanced features found in group applications launches at SXSWi, which I would hope are coming along even as I type this.  Google is becoming known to launch services and applications that soon flounder, while reviving others (Latitude for example) with features rather unexpectedly.

The final piece will be if the other group messaging systems step up to the plate and bring together a purpose for this deluge of same type applications.  I am yet to find it outside of quick group conversations around events.

TheSocialNetworker Episode 23 – Podio launch

Podio is a start-ups dream collaboration platform for having a digital workspace.  Free for up to 10 users, you can built everything from project workspaces, timelines, milestones and even bug tracking.  Do not think this is only for software developers.  The application packs I highlight in the screencast showe you how extensible the platform in.  Choose for individual or pre-made packs.  Build your own applications and more.

I have been part of, and was impressed with, the Podio beta for some time now as they built out the platform.  Today is their launch day and I wanted to give you a walkthrough of setting up and some of the capabilities.  You can watch the review in full HD on the Spiked Studio YouTube channel


TheSocialNetworker Episode 22 – Plaxo is reborn

I was shocked to run into the Plaxo team at SXSW with a new initiative.  They are restructuring their focus back into address book management.  This was their beginning before they strayed into trying to compete with other social networks.  While they had the connectivity framework built by you holding an addres book on the site, they missed bringing in features to be a killer social network.

Luckily their CEO, Justin Miller, has made a stellar quote:

Plaxo is back and we’ve got a relentless focus on the address book

A good strategic shift with companies like Gist being bought by Research In Motion (RIM or BlackBerry as some know them).  Plaxo has rebranded and added features to make a suite, with some free and some paid, which I cover in the below screencast.

Plaxo Basic: Unification of fragmented contact info, access anywhere, anytime; now includes Plaxo De-Duper (free service)
Plaxo for Mobile: Apps for iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile (free service);  Android app coming soon
Plaxo eCards: Cards for 50+ occasions and birthday reminders (free/paid service)
Plaxo Platinum Sync: Two-way, real-time sync keeps your address book consistent and accessible from the essential communication tools you use (paid service)
Plaxo Personal Assistant: New intelligent productivity service which automatically maintains critical address book information (paid service)
Pricing: Platinum Sync and Personal Assistant are offered individually or at a discount when purchased together

Plaxo is also making some more changes in 2011 to add tighter integration with Microsoft Outlook, adding new platforms and updating others, and adding more data sources to complete listings in your address book.

I did not totally agree with their pricing model yet, as it seemed high for entry and to get people onboarded.  They also want to sync contacts everywhere which is a conundrum for people like myself that want Facebook to be private friends, one Google account to be business and another personal.

While you can manipulate the settings to have them collect and consolidate the data, it is tricky to allow some data to overwrite, some to sync and others to build from sources without losing something unique you may have.  So be cautious when you begin testing and clicking options.

In the end Plaxo has a huge wall to scale to get it’s name back as the contact management resource. The tools they are offering could help escalate them quickly, mainly if the mobile applications provide as much functionality as promised.

Related postings:

Book Review: “21 Recipes for Mining Twitter” by Matthew Russell

The book 21 Recipes for Mining Twitter is an add-on to another book I am reviewing by Matthew Russell, Mining the Social Web.  

This small, yet incredibly useful, book covers 21 tips and accompanying code for mining Twitter data.  There is no fluff in this 60 page book with page 1 diving right into OAuth access.

Each of the tips (recipes) start with the problem , a brief solution and then the lengthy solution and code samples to bring the two together.  Everything in the book is written in Python with much of it being made accessible via easy_install.

While the majority of this book is code, it is an incredible companion to get you moving in pulling data, trends or just about anything from Twitter.  Creating and analyzing graphs becomes easier, discovering friendships and cliques, pulling geo-data and even finding a retweet’s source.

Much of the metadata we produce via Twitter gets lost instantly, since no one digs and mines the underlying data. This book can help you build some product or service you want around Twitter and hands you basic code to get you started. The book  21 Recipes for Mining Twitter is a great resource.

Disclosure: The links above are Amazon affiliate.