Tag Archives: social networking

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Trying out Google Friend Connect on my Blog

If you look to your right and down a little ways you’ll see a new widget on my blog – Google Friend Connect. If you’re a friend or regular reader feel free to click on the little “Join this site” button to connect to me.

So far it seems pretty similar to MyBlogLog and other services – if I get some time between baby feedings I’ll try to write up a comparison.  The most glaring advantage for Google Friend Connect is the huge, built-in userbase of GMail users, Picasa users, etc.  You can also sign in with a Yahoo ID or an OpenID, which is very cool.

Read more on the Google Blog.  You can add it to your site as well, it only took a minute or two.

Why add Friend Connect?  It lets you make your homepage a bit more like a social networking site.  Right now its a bit limited, but I think eventually we’ll all be able to own our Facebook-style identities outside of walled gardens like, well, Facebook.

I Love Hospitals With WiFi, or Twittering Childbirth

When we were looking for hospitals and doctors offices for little Athena, wifi wasn’t really on the list so much as reputation, compatibility with our insurance, and other concerns.  In retrospect, though, thank goodness Stanford Hospital and Palo Alto Medical Foundation have wifi.

We live more than 2,000 miles from most of our family.  Not all of them could make the flight to California for the birth.  We also have too many friends around the country to possibly make all the phone calls we’d have liked to have made that night.  In addition, we had several thousand people all over the world wondering which name we would pick for our baby.

Because of internet connectivity, I was able to do a fair job of including all of them in the process:

1) With my iPhone, I was able to take and post photos during labor and delivery.  Photos of my mom’s new granddaughter were available for her, on Flickr, within minutes of birth:

Wrapped and swaddled

I’m not sure I can properly express here how much it meant to her and the rest of our family to be able to see Athena so quickly.

2)  Using the Twitterific App on my iPhone was was able to post updates to Twitter throughout the whole labor.  This is a perfect example of what Twitter is good for.  Liveblogging while my wife endures the pains of childbirth would be ridiculously insensitive, but there were always minutes of downtime here and there to tap out a few words describing what’s going on.


3)  Using the Twitter App for Facebook, my updates showed up on my Facebook status as well.  This was a big help, since so many more friends and family use Facebook than Twitter.

A fourth option, which we didn’t use but might have had the labor been longer, was videoconferencing with Skype.  We’ve been using Skype to keep in touch with family for some time.  It is currently my grandmother’s favorite thing to do.  Since we’ve been back home Athena has become the star of many family video sessions.

One final thing I have to mention is YouTube – we certainly weren’t going to share the gooey miracle of life with the world in streaming video, but my wife followed the videos fo several other women during pregancy up to and including labor.  We don’t know a lot of other couples having kids right now, so that gave Ann a personal connection with their stories and helped her through some of the tougher times during the last 9 months.  She could see that other people were going through the same things she was and that was an important comfort.

The common theme here, which I think goes a long way toward explaining the growth of the internet as a whole, is communication.  Because of almost universal connectivity, we were able to turn a deep personal experience into a social experience as well.

Bebo.com and Usable Social Networking Invite Systems

Upside-down Jellyfish for an upside-down invite system An apology to anyone who got an unwanted invite to social networking site Bebo.

I tend to join and try out a lot of social apps as I run into them. I was signing up for Bebo when I got to the part of the process where you add friends to your account. First I saw the section I wanted, “Friends found on Bebo who are in your address book:

Next, there’s a section, “Friends of friends on Bebo who you MAY know:” I started down this list but noticed many duplicates from the first list. Normally this kind of duplication is a minor usability issue, since it wastes some screen real estate and a small amount of user attention. But in this case the duplicates were so prevalent I scrolled back to the top and clicked the “Add Friends” button.

Had I kept scrolling, I would have seen the “Invite friends to Bebo from your address book:” section with every email address checked by default.

Every social networking site has a feature like this, and it fuels the exponential growth that some of these sites experience. But sending an in-site friend invite is very different from sending a email invite. Most of us have email contacts who fall into various categories – friends, co-workers, people we’ve bought stuff from, former bosses, friends’ parents, etc. Very few people would want to actually send out invites to every single email address in their address book, so that should never be the default behavior.

So, yeah, sorry for the Bebo invite spam.

In other news, I just sent out over 3300 emails to people who voted in the baby name poll and left their email address.