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 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 »

Day 46 – The (beta) trial continues

March 2, 2007

At 16:08:12 today a new release of phuser hit the servers.

This one continues the vein of the previous release – consolidation before expansion.  With an emphasis on gripes and problems reported by our early-users, the 43 documented changes cover all manner of things from Help to better handling of bounced email:

1) New Getting Started Walkthrough. This is the first draft of one of a series of walkthroughs we are developing right now.  Whether you are an elite-phuser or a nervous novice, take a couple of minutes to step through the guide and tell us what you think. Once we’re happy that the style and approach is hitting the spot we’ll refine the presentation and add new walkthroughs over the next few releases.  The intro tour has also been re-jigged, so if you still know nothing about phuser then this is the place to start.

2) It’s annoying when you send a phuse member a Question or Poll phuseBlock email and it bounces or hits an auto-reply service. Your nice phuse gets filled with ugly administration email. Well not any more.  phuser is a bit more alert these days and will replace these messages with a short notice so you know what happened.  Because of email’s ad-hoc nature this isn’t perfect, so if any nasty bounces or auto-replies end up in your phuse please tell us and we’ll deal with it.

3) Calendar Coordinator is dead .   Long live Date Decider . Thanks to everyone who voted for this in the phuser GUI improvements phuse

4) New smileys.

5)  Ever wanted to invite loads of your 2nd degree friends into your phuser network at once? It was a bit of a pain before. Now you can just tick the tick boxes in your profile page or in your friend’s profile page. 

6)  Improved support for BB code in phuseblocks etc.   

7) Stacks of niggly bugs and inconsistencies have been nailed.  A selection of which:

  • Ordering phuses in my phuses by ‘Created’ actually works now.
  • Accidentally inviting an existing network member no longer gives an error.
  • Calendary Coordinator  Date Decider: Correct list of message recipients when using resend feature. Other minor tweaks to the UI.
  • No longer forced to send a message when conluding phuseBlocks.
  • Privacy loophole fixed – phuseBlock creators were able to contact phuse members outside their network.
  •  The phuseBlock Gallery has returned to form after a long illness.
  • Loads of other things that are too dull even for this bullet list.

Remember, phuser accounts are by invitation at the moment so if you don’t have one and would like to join our esteemed and mostly merry band of beta users,  just ask.

Smoothing the path

February 20, 2007

A new version of phuser is out today.

Compared to most phuser upgrades, the focus of this release is a little unusual.  Apart from the new Home Page, which we hope is a bit punchier than the old one, regular users won’t notice too much change other than a couple of modest enhancements:

Expand active phuseBlocks1) 1st and 2nd degree friends are now shown in seperate boxes when you view your own profile.

2) When you look at a phuse, a new control near the top expands the overviews of all phuseBlocks that have had some action since you last looked – see right:

“Is that it?” you ask?

Well no.

 One of the best things about this beta phase is that we finally get to see what works and what doesn’t.  With the invaluable help of our active early users we’ve already uncovered a stack of things to sort out.  But as often as not, we’re learning that ‘what doesn’t work’ can be something quite intangible and conceptual rather than something solid and functional.

For example, we know that new people joining phuser, especially those who haven’t had the benefit of a helping hand from an phuser veteran, can have a hard landing once they sign up.  It’s not clear to them what they should do first, or even why they’re there! So we ask ourselves:

‘How do we get the phuser concept across to new people without smothering them with excess verbiage?’ 

That is the thorny question we are grappling with at the moment.  So as part of our plan to improve this side of things we have a new phuser Home Page and a new Tour.  Whether you’re familiar with phuser or not, why not try the tour and let us know if it works for you.  (Existing phusers – please post on the forum!)

There’s also a new phuse wizard and welcome/landing page in the works to help new users find their bearings and create their first phuse.  The tutorials have been updated too.

This process of smoothing the path for new users is a critical one and we know we still have a lot of work to do until it’s as easy and straightfoward as it needs to be. Stay tuned.


February 7, 2007

This is the official blog for phuser.com – the antidote to Social Networking sites. The Beta version of phuser is now live so stop reading this and go and request an invitation. If you register with phuser now you can have a real input shaping how the site develops. Since the site is in Beta everything is completely free, including SMS sending.

phuser is Social Networking for your real-life friends. It lets you share private spaces, plan activities and collaborate with people you know. phuser provides useful tools for organising and messaging, it also intergrates with email and SMS.

This blog is where we’ll be posting official anouncements and news about phuser. As well as a few others things that we find that we decide are worth sharing with the world.

We hope you enjoy using, phuser.

The phuser Team