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 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 »