Has the signal-to-noise backlash started?

April 11, 2008

Interesting to read two posts in one day about the distractions of Web 2.0 services. Hugh MacLeod has deleted his Twitter account and Robert Scoble is finding that turning off his internet connection makes him more productive. I’m not quite sure why this is news (except because Robert wrote about it) but I entirely agree with his sentiment. There is something quite sinister and pervasive about these services, the way they dramatically reduce concentration times and continually pummel the mind in all different directions. What makes them worse is that they have apparently addictive properties. In Hugh’s case why would you not just switch off your Twitter alerts and never check the site (like I do)? To actually delete it is quite suggestive.

I accept that some jobs actually require a short focus but many jobs require a great deal of concentration, I can only begin to imagine what these services are doing to the productivity of the workforces around the world.

Joel Spolsky puts it very well:

“Here’s the trouble. We all know that knowledge workers work best by getting into “flow”, also known as being “in the zone”, where they are fully concentrated on their work and fully tuned out of their environment. They lose track of time and produce great stuff through absolute concentration. This is when they get all of their productive work done. Writers, programmers, scientists, and even basketball players will tell you about being in the zone.”

I think the worrying thing is that many of these services aren’t even mainstream yet. If these services are addictive then we are either going to need a lot of self control or employers are going to have to try and put measures in place. All for what appears to be an awful lot of noise and not much signal.


Phuser about to launch Web 2.0 integrations

November 20, 2007

As you may have read on Techcrunch we have just come out of colsed Beta and are going to launch our first Web 2.0 integrations next week.

The first two integrations will be with Slideshare, the popular presentation sharing website and del.icio.us, the social bookmarking website.

This will allow you to use these services withSlideshare logo your team inside Phuser without having to create a Slideshare or del.icio.us account. Your team won’t have to get distracted going to these separate websites and your slideshows and bookmarks will be private just to your team.

In the following weeks we will be launching del.icio.us logofurther integrations with websites for conference calling, shared whiteboards, online document editing, transcription, translation and more.

The release next week is an big milestone for Phuser, bringing together our new tabbed Phuse view, numerous UI improvements and the first of our Web 2.0 integrations.  This will make Phuser more familiar to existing users of Basecamp and Huddle although with more tools at your disposal.

To be the first to hear when the new release of Phuser is live drop me an email to welcome (at) phuser (dot) com

 Watch this space for more news!

Phuser Summer Newsletter

August 10, 2007

Hello Phusers!Summer Phusing!

Summer Phusing!Summer Phusing!We’ve been hard at work here at Phuser HQ and have some exciting new things for you to try. You may remember that Phuses are a great way to discuss, plan and share with your friends and colleagues. This could be a sports team, group holiday, project or discussing something you are passionate about.

  New Open Phuses

Start an Open Phuse and anyone in your network can join! This makes it easier to get discussions going. You can ask for advice or opinions or just talk about something you like and anyone in your network can take part. When you Start a New Phuse you can easily choose whether it is Open or Closed. Try creating a new Open Phuse now and see who joins in! Start a Phuse

What used to be normal Phuses where you invited everyone individually are now callmrphuser.pnged Closed Phuses. They are still there for those Private plans and discussions. All your existing Phuses are Closed but why not make some of them Open? Just go into a Phuse you created and click Edit.

New Phuser Spokesperson

You have a new person in your network! He is called Mr Phuser and he is helping us launch Open Phuses. Mr Phuser has many interests (like cheese) and has started creating Open Phuses for them. Take a look at them and join in the discussion! He also loves receiving messages and SMS! If you don’t want Mr Phuser in your network just click on him to look at his profile and then click Remove from Network. Don’t worry, he won’t be offended.

Limited! Invite new people bumper blowout

Mr Phuser wants more friends! So much that he is giving out Phuse Power Points . For every person you invite in the next 48 hours he will give you 100 Points, if they sign up he will give you another 400 points!

Happy Phusing! Sign into Phuser now!

George Black
The Phuser Team

P.S. Any feedback welcome!

phuser in the phield!

July 4, 2007

Esteemed phuser phellow George ‘the phuse master’ Black has just blogged about how phuser got him and his disparate but merry band of europhriends together for a trip to Dublin.

PhuserCastApart from helping plan the trip, it seems that the real star of the show was phuser’s SMS broadcast feature. By sending an SMS to phuser starting with the word ‘Dublin‘, each member of the party could broadcast messages to all the others. Even better, the messages appeared to come from their own mobile numbers, as if they had sent them directly. Great for rounding everyone up at the nearest public house for a pint or three of Ireland’s Finest.

Everybody could use some phuser Broadcast goodness in their lives, so I’ll be blogging about it here soon, with ideas and tips to help you get started.

Under the hood – Revealing the Inner Phuser. Part 1

July 3, 2007

In this occasional series I’ll be explaining a little about how phuser works and what makes it different to most social networking sites.

GroupPart 1 – How phuser protects your privacy

Newcomers to phuser are often confused. This is partly because our content & help review is still pending (it is coming, we promise!), but mostly it’s because phuser isn’t what they’re used to.

A simple example: When you join MySpace or Facebook, you immediately see lots of ‘friends’ and lots of activity. There’s a buzz – you get an instant reward just for signing up.  When you join phuser, you might well see NOTHING! Where is everybody? Where’s the action?

The first thing to remember is that phuser is all about your real friends, and your real activities. So there is a little work to be done to get started (and we are working hard to reduce this barrier), but the pay-off is that much more rewarding.

So let’s have a quick look at some of the design goals intended to protect your privacy on phuser:  Read the rest of this entry »

Find it fast with phuser

April 20, 2007

It’s Friday and that means upgrade time at phuser.  One short week since our last installment but still we’ve managed to dig up a couple of tasty morsels for you to savour…

There are two new features that should appeal to the phuser neophiles amongst you.  We can’t decide which is our favourite so we’ll call it a tie and let you make up your mind. So, in alphabetical order, in joint first place:

Friend finderFriend Finder

This piece of phuser goodness is a boon to anyone using phuser Quick SMS and Email features.  Now, from your phuser homepage you can instantly call up friends from My Network.  A list of matching friends appears as you type, and you can instantly go to their profile, start a phuse with them or message them directly.  SMSing your friends with phuser just got even easier!  (Tip: Make your SMS appear to come from your own number – Register your mobile).

Find a phuse

We know that a number of you with busy phuses have been asking for a Search feature.  Well at last we have one, and we’re pretty pleased with it.  Enter your search on My phuses and you’ll see a tastefully presented list of results:

Search results


The first line is the phuse of course, then the Activity (Poll, Question etc), and the remaining lines show exactly where the match was found. Simple.


Invite from phuseThe runner-up in our list of new features is an improvement to the phuse Members page, inspired by Chris who is organising a Stag do with phuser.  This page now lets you invite any phuse members who aren’t already in your network, which of course means you can get more from phuse Broadcasting (see last week’s update): 


Happy phusing!


Shaping up

April 13, 2007

It’s been a long and arduous week here at phuser Central, but as Friday draws to a close and everyone else slopes off to the pub we can at last announce our latest version of phuser.

If you haven’t visited phuser in a while you will notice quite a few changes for the better.  Easier phuses, easier invitations and easier groups to name just a few.  Even the most dedicated follower of phuser phashion (ahem) will notice several welcome improvements in this release.

PhuserCastOur favourite new toy is phuse Broadcast.  It debuted a couple of weeks ago but now we have polished and honed it.  In a nutshell, all your phuses are given a short code which you can see at the top ofthe phuse and in My phuses:

Simply send an SMS text message starting with your code, followed by your message to phuser at +44 7624806185 (which of course you have saved in your phone ), and phuser will SMS your message to everyone else in the phuse. Did we say that it’ll appear to come from your phone number so that replies come straight back to you? Or that people without a phone will at least get an email? It’s all true.

And we thought it was good. Good yes, but perhaps not good enough. So we improved it.  phuser goes to great lengths to create the shortest possible Broadcast codes for your phuses, but we decided to go one better.  So now you can set your own memorable keyword as an alternative to the Broadcast code that phuser provides.  Just click change next to a code and you’re off:

We’ve also sorted out a long-standing gripe that has bugged many of our trusty beta-users.  Photo Album now keeps track of which pics you’ve looked at so that the New Comments  and New Pictures  icons are at last meaningful.  Trust us, this is better than it sounds.  The sighs of relief and aura of inner contentment that emenated from various phuser staff when this was being tested were palpable.

What else?

There’s a new Group Wizard so you can get more out of My Network. First-timers will go through it when they join, the rest of you can find it in My Network. It’ll help you choose the privacy settings for the group, add people from your Network and even invite new people if you need to.

The list of phuses on the home page has been improved too, and as promised My phuses has received its second installment of usability improvements.

Now that we are a couple of months into our beta trial we’re going to cut loose a little.  For example, everyone can now invite up to 25 new people to phuser. So get inviting (and don’t forget our GMail address book importer!).  If 25 isn’t enough for you, just ask.

Then there’s the traditional slew of bug fixes and tweak of course. Lots this time around. Everything from fixing the ordering of messages in Sent Messages to sorting out broken phuse Alerts (which by the way is the new catchier name for Notifications), to say nothing of broken links and some obscure but important privacy fixes.  Styling tweaks, code fixes, it’s all in there.

Finally, don’t forget to post in the phuser forum with your thoughts. Feedback from our esteemed beta-users has already shaped phuser considerably, so why not stick your oar in?

As always, new user are more than welcome so if you haven’t already, request an invitation.