1. Settle down, Facebook. Google+ can smell fear.

    September 21, 2011

    That was the quote of the day.

    I read this among a host of other critical comments on my Facebook feed this morning. Yet another wave of negative reactions to Facebook rolling out new features. It seems like Facebook usually does this in smaller doses, but I have to admit that today I was even a little overwhelmed.

    Over the past few days Facebook users have been met with new friend grouping features, profile subscriptions, notifications galore and a new feed layout. There are also rumors circulating that Facebook will be rolling out a new profile layout within the week. After trying to absorb all of this with the news that I would otherwise be looking for within my friend feed, I was feeling not so open to change.

    (more…)


  2. You are the Least Important Person on Your Website

    August 31, 2011

    It’s been a challenging week at the office. You know what they say about opinions and everyone having one? This is a reality that we cannot escape, but it continues to be a challenge when the occasional client gives our team virtually no say in how a project takes shape. It’s like watching a hurricane gaining on you day by day, when a project takes conceptual wrong turn after wrong turn, and ultimately you know that it cannot succeed as a result.

    A project manager brought up an interesting analogy today. It’s like hiring a financial advisor, and then telling him or her exactly what stocks to buy. Isn’t that what Etrade is for? Why on earth would you hire a consulting firm with years of experience in a very specific field, and proceed to dictate every detail of how they should plan, design and develop a project? I don’t know the answer to this, but I can say that when someone says that they trust our creative judgment and actually seek our input as a team, it’s like angels calling down from the heavens, light shines through the clouds, and my heart skips a beat. Yay for teamwork! (more…)


  3. Group-Centric Social Networks

    August 2, 2011

    I have recently noticed a new trend in social network development that is facilitating social connections in a simple, but more focused way. Group-centric networks have taken the broad “everything and everyone” concept of Facebook and Twitter and whittled it down to a specific niche and are not only offering, but fully focusing on group creation and membership. I think this speaks to the reality that you can only post general updates into a status update space for so long. At some point, it does get boring and where do we go next? Well, it would make sense to find a way to communicate with other people who share specific interests, with whom more in-depth conversations can be had.

    Here are a handful of social networks that are engaging their communities with unique, interactive groups.

    www.yourgroups.com

    YourGroups is an original social network allowing members to create one or more private groups. The site structure and group privacy ensures that your group experience will give you the privacy that Facebook lacks. Whether its your closest friends, family, work group, sports team or school connections, yourgroups provides a private place to support those day to day communications. Here are some of the features it offers:

    • Immediately contacting all or a part of your group via push messaging
    • Sending a location and time for the group to meetup via push messaging
    • Setting up future events for the group to attend
    • Check-in to events once you arrive and see who has checked-in
    • Posting a message for your group to see
    • Sharing pictures relevant just to the members of the group
    • Using your phones GPS to set destinations to meet

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  4. Why Website Security is More Important Than Ever

    January 30, 2011

    This week Facebook rolled out an option to use the encrypted HTTPS option when browsing the network. This comes after the release of a browser extension, FireSheep, which makes it easier for others sharing your open wireless connection to access your account credentials. Interestingly the creator of the extension built it specifically to encourage sites like Facebook to lock down their security standards. While FireSheep has been available for several weeks, this transition by Facebook comes days after Mark Zuckerberg’s fan page was hacked. Interesting!

    Thankfully our techies got wind of FireSheep pretty early on, and we immediately had a meeting to discuss security upgrades that could be made to our own software to deter similar abuses. Formerly it was our recommendation to protect all network user data using SSL, however we have since optimized our software to run entirely through HTTPS. As of January 2011, any new installations of our social network framework comes with a strong recommendation to opt for this additional layer of security. Other sites that encrypt all data and interactions would be etrade.com, mint.com and online banking sites. (more…)


  5. “I want a site just like Facebook.”

    January 10, 2011

    If I had a nickel for every time an email graced my inbox with this phrase in it…

    First of all, if anyone could decide be just like Facebook, I’m sure MySpace would be paying to be first in line. Second, thinking that you will blow Facebook out of the water with a site that looks and acts just like Facebook just isn’t too innovative. It would take a really outside-the-box concept to do that. Third, Facebook will sue you if you’re just like Facebook.

    This is actually why we build niche communities, because they serve a demographic in a way that Facebook currently does not, whether that is by a specific interest, by function or by location. Sometimes Facebook is just too big and too general to meet every need, and that is the gap that we fill and that we encourage our clients to take advantage of. We build networks with the hope that one of our communities could warrant it’s own social bookmarking icon someday, but we’re also interested in building a site that actually has a chance of gaining traction by serving a need that hasn’t been met to an audience that will take advantage of it. (more…)


  6. The Social Network Movie and Why Fiction is More Entertaining

    October 11, 2010

    I finally saw The Social Network last Friday. Where do I begin?

    Well, how about with the facts. Leaving the theater, our wheels were definitely turning about the accuracy of the film. Without a doubt, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is painted as a tragic hero, which is also how screenwriter Aaron Sorkin describes the character. In the movie and arguably in reality, Zuckerberg is driven and passionate about his talents and concept to the point where some underhanded or perhaps less than honorable actions were taken. While there is some loose truth to the story line, some quick Googling reveals some interesting facts on the victimized billionaire Eduardo and more factual accounts of Facebook’s early days.

    I don’t necessarily agree with all of the choices he made (though his word choice in released personal IM conversations is pretty entertaining), but it aligns with what you might expect out of an incredibly talented Harvard undergrad who knows he’s smarter than almost everyone around him. His actions are also polarized in light of the current staggering success of Facebook, where at the time, no one could possibly know the impact that this small site would have on the world and all those involved in its beginnings. I also respect that Zuckerberg made some hard decisions to ensure that Facebook w0uld not only flourish but maintain its integrity.

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  7. Pay it Forward, Every Day

    August 6, 2010

    We recently launched a website focused exclusively on the concept of “digital humanity.” In other words, bringing good acts to the virtual scene and celebrating them. Dighu.com provides an ongoing forum to share your good deed(s) for the day, and see how others are paying it forward in different areas of your life. It’s a great concept, and one that I feel confident will quickly gain exposure.

    While we’ve built several niche social networking websites, I don’t always personally fall within the target demographic for the website, but this site has engaged me in a way that few others have. When I’m not posting regularly, I can’t help but wonder if may not be doing enough regular good deeds. But when I do, I know that I am making time despite my busy schedule to go out of my way to do good things.

    Admittedly sometimes it is hard to add conscious good acts to your to-do list. Work, family, friends, fun, more work, always so much to do. And in this economy, it’s harder and harder to budget for donations to charities and non-profits. There are many ways, however, to give to others without reaching for your wallet. As they say, “the smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention,” so it is our hope that through this socially conscious network, people across the globe will make the time to act on their good intentions and share those acts through www.dighu.com. Did you dighu?


  8. Four Reasons to Start Your Own Social Network

    February 3, 2010

    I happen to think there’s about a million good reasons to start a social network, but that naturally is because I live and breathe this industry, and I have an amazing team at my fingertips who happen to be skilled in all levels of social network geekery. Outside of my mania however, there are numerous sound and legitimate reasons to start your own online community. Below I have highlighted a few, and I hope to build onto this list in the future…

    Fill an Untapped Niche in the Social Networking World. If you’re anything like me, you have periodic revelations about something that you’re certain hasn’t been done yet. And if you are me, you immediately think about how you can fill the void through a social network of some sort. Like Twitter but only for sports fans! A community for Twilight-obsessed moms! A network to connect tattoo enthusiasts with tattoo artists! While social networks have really become commonplace in our lives the past few years, there is still plenty of opportunity to fill a void. I will say that the chances are low that any run-of-the-mill idea can compete with social networks giants like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. These networks target a very general and broad audience. Websites that target specific niche communities, serving the needs of that particular group, I feel have a fighting chance of gaining momentum. If successful, they could have a chance of achieving more broad appeal. Facebook, for example, was originally built for college and university students. MySpace was primarily for musicians. Both evolved from serving a specific niche community to serving literally millions of users from all over the globe, including numerous corporate giants who now use these networks as must-have microsites for their brands.

    My advice? Take your idea, identify potential target audiences as specifically as you can, research competing sites and find out how you can best serve that group with the most useful tools. What if there are other tattoo networks, for example? Don’t be discouraged. If there are others competing in this market, it’s typically a good sign. It means that there actually is a market. You just need to find out how to make your concept better: more unique, more useful, more visually-appealing and valuable enough to attract the lion’s share of the market. (more…)


  9. Helping Haiti: Making & Meeting 2010 Resolutions I Never Knew I Had

    January 18, 2010

    For the first time in several years, I did not actually sit down to write my list of 2010 resolutions, which typically includes both personal and business goals. The way the first few weeks of the year have been going, I now understand why. Everything is just moving too fast, and yet positively forward, so opportunities for progress and positive change arise almost daily, and thankfully we are almost always ready to meet the challenge.

    One example of this has been my personal reaction to the earthquake in Haiti, and how Pearse Street has decided to do its part in the relief and rebuilding effort. In addition to donating to the Haiti relief effort, I along with so many others wanted to know how I could possibly do more. We often think, what can I possibly do to help the devastation that is so far from me? Sadly last year I had little time and no significant budget for pro-bono work which I was always able to make time for before. In the back of my mind I knew that this had to change this year, and when the opportunity arose, it took me literally seconds to say yes  when the social network junkie part of me had an epiphany and realized that building a social network could actually make a difference in this travesty. JoinHaiti.org was quickly born. (more…)