Should TechCrunch Publish Twitter Secrets

Yesterday, a hacker named Hacker Croll sent 310 confidential documents that he or she stole from Twitter to various web sites.

Since it happened, TechCrunch founder and editor Mike Arrington has written two posts discussing the documents that he will publish – financial projections, product plans and notes from executive strategy meetings – and what he won’t publish – information that’s embarrassing but not really newsworthy. The blog Mashable said it will not publish any of the documents.

It raises an interesting ethical dilemma, should these documents be published?

Now, for sure, this is not always a dilemma. News organizations often post documents often post documents and information that have been leaked by employees, interested parties or people in government. And Arrington is arguing that what he’s doing is no different.

But a number of commenters on TechCrunch are saying that it is different for mostly two reasons – all three of those entities (employees, interested parties, government) presumably had legitimate access to that info in the first place and then decided to leak it, and that information about a small company, albeit an ultra-popular one, isn’t newsworthy enough to warrant this disclosure, unlike something like the Pentagon Papers.

It’s hard to argue that Twitter isn’t newsworthy, even though it’s a tiny company. It’s growing exponentially and has changed social networking and the web. Plus, it’s impossible to know whether the disclosure was newsworthy or not until it’s published. But publishing these documents also gives the hacker the validation that he or she set out for when the documents were sent to TechCrunch and will probably spur other hackers to do the same for other companies.

Bestbuy Abuses Social Networking

Word on the street is that Bestbuy is now requiring applicants to not only be on Twitter – but to have at least 250 followers, as well. When I read this, my mouth hit the floor. In effect, the company thinks that hiring people with a large Twitter following will garner more business for them. How ludicrous is this? It’s not up to an employee to send out tweets and bring in business to a company like Bestbuy. For one thing, what if a person chooses not to have that many followers? Not everyone is on Twitter to see if they can win the race for having the most followers. Some people actually use it only to follow interesting people and entities themselves, not caring whether others follow them back. Some of those same people never even update their own timeline. They choose, instead, to simply use Twitter to read the latest news, and keep up with what’s hot in the marketplace.

I cannot begin to understand why a company would require something like this, If a person’s job were going to be something along the lines of “Social Media Director”, I might be able to see the need for the applicant to already have some sort of following, establishing them as “social media savvy”. Beyond that – I’m just lost.

Follow me on Twitter: @dalesio

Twitter Delays Downtime for Iranian Protest

Twitter had been planning to have a 90 minute downtime tonight for maintenance. Given what’s going on over in Iran right now, that was a problem. And so Twitter has decided to reschedule the maintenance so the protests can go on.

This is a good move by Twitter. It clearly didn’t want to have to move the maintenance window that it calls a “critical network upgrade,” but the users made it pretty clear that they don’t want the service going down at all during this important time. So Twitter worked with its network partner NTT America to reschedule the maintenance for 2-3 PM Pacific, which will be 1:30 in the morning in Iran, rather than during the day.

Twitter uses the rest of the post to praise NTT America for its flexibility, but really this is all about Iran. The people over there are using Twitter as a tool of choice for spreading info about what is going on, even as other outlets for communication are being blocked

fmylife.com

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When you are feeling blue, you should visit this website. fmylife or follow @fxxxmylife on Twitter. “Capsule-sized doses melancholy to to help you feel better about your life any time you need it.

TweetDeck

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In a moment of sheer frustration with Twitterrific, I sent out a call on my Twitter feed for recommendations of a desktop Twitter client. Several folks replied with a nod to TweetDeck, an Adobe AIR-based client currently in development for OS X, Linux, and Windows.

TweetDeck is a pretty neat program. The selling point is the ability to split your main Twitter feed into subfeeds that you can then organize into different groups. You can have Twitter be as narrow as a single column while you scroll back and forth in it, or you can make it full-screen and have your monitor filled with nothing but tweeting goodness.

There’s a lot of features as well. If you go over the 140-character limit, you can hit a “TweetShrink” button that will turn some of the words to LOL-speak in order to fit the limit. You can upload pictures – clicking on the TwitPic button will upload the image file to TwitPic and give you the URL for your feed – and you can shorten URLs via your choice of service by clicking the “Shorten” button.

Another very cool feature is the ability to translate your tweets into another language. The translation is pretty accurate – even for more difficult languages such as the Japanese I tested with the application. The program itself is highly customizable, and you can tweak the colors and fonts to whatever you like. You can also set different update times for various feeds: for example, you can have your main friends update every minute, but your private messages every five minutes.

TweetDeck is extremely polished for a beta client and I’ve yet to get the error messages that plagued me with Twitteriffic. If you’re searching for a free desktop client for Twitter, it’s hard to beat this one.

Why Blip.fm Rocks

Blip.fm isn’t perfect. The more I’ve played with it the more I’ve noticed little things that could be improved (I’ve listed them at the bottom). But you can tell the guys are working on constantly imrpoving the app. And they’re taking user feedback splendidly well. Which is my first big tick.

  1. Clear and Responsive Feedback Route. They’re using uservoice.com to manage their feedback. There’s a clear feedback link docked to the right hand side of the browser. When you click it, you get a neat feedback overlay (with a clear close button). You can leave a comment or vote for an idea that someone else has already suggested. You can also see that the most popular ideas have already been started or are planned. I could probably write another megapost about uservoice.com – it looks really very very good as a customer service platform. Similar to getsatisfaction.com but looks perhaps a bit simpler from a user perspective. But back to Blip.fm.
  2. The idea. I like the idea of Blip.fm. I think its strongest asset is its flexibility. A couple of people have said to me that they don’t see the point. I can see 2 major usage types: 1. As a music enhanced Twitter. Quite often (in my circles anyway) people quite often post a tweet connected to a bit of music. Now they can post the music too. 2. As a playlist maker. This afternoon I could have just listened down my favorite DJs tracks and had a brilliant time and be surprised and inspired by what I heard. There’s probably a bunch of other uses for it too. It’ll be interesting to see how people end up using it. (I’ve just thought of one. You could use it for getting people to help you to ID tracks).
  3. Built-in Virality. As soon as one of your Twitter friends starts using Blip.fm (if they’ve chosen to enable Twitter alerts) you start noticing that their Tweets have music attached, an interesting musical symbol has appeared and their client is Blip.fm – if you’re an inquisitive person you can’t not click…
  4. Twitter Integration. As mentioned above you can use Blip.fm to post to Twitter. What’s nice is that it you appear to get 150 characters (plus your song URL). So it doesn’t take up any of your Tweet characters. On the downside it doesn’t allow you to decouple your Blip.fm and Twittering – so if Twitter is enabled I can’t blip something without it going to Twitter (which I want to do sometimes). Perhaps I’m in the minority here though.
  5. The Currentness and Currency of Music. Muxtape and Last.fm are obvious things to compare Blip.fm with. And they do a similar job of ‘socializing music’. But there’s something about the immediateness of Blip.fm – the fact that it’s what people are listening to ‘right now’. But not just what they’re listening to, it’s the particular tracks that they’ve chosen to share. Along with a short comment.
  6. Status. Blip do a great job of handling status in the community. When you get 50/100/250 listeners you get a star. It just appears and it looks nice. It made me feel special. They’ve also introduced ‘props’ that you can give to people. You earn props to give away by doing stuff on the site, like blipping, getting props from others, inviting friends and being listened to. Basically if you’re a good active citizen/DJ you get rewarded with gifts that you can give to other good DJs. It’s lightweight enough not to be cumbersome. But substantial enough to make you feel a bit nice if someone gives you props. The value-system feels well through.
  7. Last.fm Integration. The integration is pretty simple (but effective) at the moment. However, it would seem that there’s more features to come. Like the tracks that you play via Blip.fm being scrobbled into your Last.fm account. Currently whatever you’ve just played in iTunes (via the magic of Last.fm and the audioscrobbler) can get passed to Blip.fm automatically. So if you’ve just heard something, and gone: “Woo Wee, I must tell the world about that track”, which I often do. It’s as simple as firing up Blip.fm and the track will be there for you ready to blip. Provided it’s ‘in the system’.
  8. The System. Right then. The tricky bit. The bit I don’t really get. How it all works. There’s not much information on the site about where it pulls all the music from. I’m guessing that it’s deliberately a bit vague being as it’s possible there are some grey bits in the legals at the moment just like with Muxtape.
  9. Making ‘Friends‘. Blip has got a couple of nice ‘friend making’ features. When you sign up it suggests a posse of 30 people with similar music tastes to you. Even thought the matching didn’t seem to work that well for me (I think I did put in a fairly odd bunch of tracks though) it was a great introduction. I got to see how it would work if I had 30 friends with similar musical taste on the site. Quite often with things like Twitter you don’t really get it until you’ve reached a critical mass. Giving you an automatic critical mass (based on your preferences is smart). If you’ve just blipped an artist that someone else has also blipped it suggests you might be compatible. And you just might be.
  10. Lots of Nice Little Interface Touches. Everything has been made nice. It would have been simple to put less care and attention into the app. But that’s just not good enough for these days. Here’s a couple of little examples. Yes, they’re only little examples and in their own right they’re nothing out of the ordinary. But they seem to have missed every little opportunity to do good things. And if you upload a track it shows you (accurately) how your upload is getting along. A really simple thing that gets missed in so many apps…

Now I’m going to talk about you about the problems I’ve had with Blip.fm:

  • No continuous play – if you jump between pages the player often stops – it’d be nice for there to be a kind of pop-out player (I know this has been asked for in the feedback bit)
  • It can be easy to miss new friends (proper friends) joining unless you’ve go email alerts on.
  • Selective Twittering isn’t available – sometimes I might like to blip something without it being sent to Twitter.
  • Browser crashes – I’ve had a few spinning balls as have a couple of friends. Which is a shame.

But I still love it.

Chris Brogan Talks Twitter

To many people, Twitter is a means of connecting to inform “what are you doing?”. That network of people can be used in many ways – from connecting to a small group of friends to incorporating it into an active business model.

Chris Brogan is using Twitter and has developed a following that is approaching thirty thousand people. He has passed along some thoughts on using Twitter for Business:

“…I’m not going to address the naysayers much with this. Instead, I’m going to offer 50 thoughts for people looking to use Twitter for business. And by “business,” I mean anything from a solo act to a huge enterprise customer.”

The number of followers that Chris has developed has been achieved through hard work an maximizing the effectiveness of one hundred and forty characters to deliver quick, meaningful thoughts. Twitter is moving from a small chat rooms of a few people (or a few hundred people) to a network of thousands. Kudos to Chris Brogan for sharing his experience.