Akademy is (not so) far away

Last year around this time everyone was getting ready for the Desktop Summit. I couldn’t make it and I could still kick myself for it tbh. Watching it remotely was rather painful as the information flow wasn’t as good as it could have been. So I promised myself two things for this year’s Akademy: 1) I’m soooooo going to be there. 2) I’m going to help make it easier on the people who can not go for whatever reason.

So here is the run-up of resources you will need to keep up-to-date on all things Akademy while it is happening in 2 weeks:

Most of them have RSS feeds you can subscribe to – use them 🙂

If there is anything else that would be helpful please leave a note in the comments.

Now if you are going to be in Tampere and going to make the world rock more, spread the coolness:

  • identi.ca: join the !akademy group (you can’t post without joining)  and post about what you’re doing
  • identi.ca: poke me, Claudia or Kenny to get useful stuff posted to @akademy
  • twitter: tweet about cool stuff and tag it with #akademy
  • twitter: poke me, Claudia or Kenny to get useful stuff posted to @akademy
  • flickr: upload photos and tag them with #akademy and #akademy2010
  • write blog posts and have it aggregated to planetKDE
  • ping jefferai to get etherpad set up for your team for live meeting notes if your team doesn’t have one yet (I know at least promo and edu do)
  • if you’re a speaker: get your slides to the program committee, the friendly folks who sent you your talk confirmation

And you might have guessed it already…

(Special thanks to my employer ontoprise and the KDE e.V. for paying travel and accommodation. It would not be possible without you. *hint* individual supporting membership *hint*)

Hmmm and while I’m at it I might as well create some buzz for my talks, right? So I’ll be doing 3 talks it seems:

Be there! You know you want to 😉  I’ll also be doing 3 BoF’s on git, community and wikis for those interested. Oh and I’m writing on a paper on mentoring to accompany my community talk. I’ll post it here when it’s published.

CU in Tampere! 😀

Let’s make identi.ca and Twitter a little more KDE!

It’s been bugging me for a while that most sites on identi.ca and Twitter look rather boring and I thought it would be nice to give them a little KDE touch. cosmonautirussi was so kind to do some cool backgrounds for KDE contributors, developers, translators and users as well as a generic one. You can just upload them to identi.ca (or any other StatusNet site) and Twitter, adjust the page background color a little to fit your taste and voila!

You can grab them on community.kde.org.

Wanna see what it looks like in action? Check out this, this, this and this.

What People Are (Really) Saying About Windows 7

Remember my Social Media Guide For Free Software Projects? Skreech was so kind to point me to a really great un-example site: Microsoft’s social media page for Windows 7, where they show what people are saying about it. Go take a look.

Now there are a few interesting things to mention about this page.

Quite fast, huh? Lots of people talking about it. Are those messages real-time? Nope. The page is just made to give you the impression they are. I picked a few random ones and got pretty much everything between 3 hours and 8 days old. See the slider at the top? Yea you can slow it down to actually be able to read it unlike the default.

If you feel like it just watch it for a few minutes and watch the same messages appear again. It started to loop after about 10 minutes here.

Now let’s take a look at the actual content of the messages shown. Windows 7 must be the most awesome operating system out there. In the 30 minutes or so I watched the stream there were 2 messages with a slightly negative touch. Every single other message praised it. Every single one. Now call me biased but I don’t believe it. So I had a look at the actual Twitter search page for Windows 7 and Win7. And indeed you find tweets, that are less positive, like this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this or this. They do however have little stabs at Linux and Apple in their selected tweets (“I though Apple had it together but with Win7 out of the door they better get moving.” and similar.). This page seems to indicate that they do indeed filter for family friendliness and so on. Fair enough. But it also says that they do not filter out the negative stuff. Uhhhhm yes you do.

The Facebook messages are taken from the Windows fan page on Facebook. Now my guess is that the audience of said fan page is slightly biased 😉 but I’ll let that one slide as there aren’t a lot of good ways to get such messages out of Facebook.

There is probably more but those are the things that immediately jumped into my eye. Please leave comments if you find other gems.

Now the sad thing is: From my quick check of Twitter and Co it seems that Windows 7 is indeed good according to quite a few people. There are indeed a lot of people tweeting about it. There would have been no need to hide behind filtering and sneaky web-apps trying to create an illusion of a lot of communication. This would have been a great opportunity to show what people really think about it and gain credibility. But it failed. It failed to be honest and instead took the secure way. If you want to take the secure way stay away from social media!

Wanna learn how to do it right? Get in touch with me and have a look at buzz.kde.org (which is indeed live and unfiltered and could use some coding help – ping me if you want to help).

identi.ca got it right

Social media like Twitter, Facebook, digg and co. are all about the conversation. They are more fun and actually more useful when you have people to interact with. After all it’s called social media, right?

Now people have discussed why Twitter is better than identi.ca and the other way around. So Twitter obviously has the advantage of being comparatively big and mainstream at the moment. And this certainly has its advantages like being able to interact with a lot more people who so far have not (and maybe never will) discovered identi.ca.

Identi.ca on the other hand has the advantage of being Free Software and connecting a lot of Free Software people. However that is not the only and maybe not even the biggest advantage of it. No, actually its biggest advantage is enabling communication. Let me explain.

Twitter has @-replies. You use them to address people in the messages you send (like this: @foo I don’t agree with what you just said). Not too long ago Twitter decided to not show those @-replies your contacts send to other people in your main timeline but only when you visit their pages. So when one of the people I follow addresses someone else but me I will generally not see this. There are a few good reasons for Twitter to do this which I will not go into right now. However the problem with this is that you are missing big parts of very interesting message exchanges. The even bigger problem is however that it is close to impossible to find the @-replies someone got. Why is this a problem? Say someone asks his Twitter followers how they like a movie that just came out to decide if it is worth going to the cinema or not. You are about to go as well and would like to read what people answer him? Well tough luck. You’ll need to jump trough hoops and use the twitter search to search for his nickname and will probably get a lot of useless stuff there mixed in the useful things. Identi.ca on the other hand gives a tab to view all replies a user received so you can easily see what people replied to an interesting question or comment. Identi.ca goes even further. You get a “show in context”-link that tries to thread the whole conversation around a certain topic. It is pretty awesome and accurate. You can see who replied what to whom. Check it out!

One feature Twitter is lacking completely is groups. They are addressed with !groupname. Groups are an awesome way to communicate with a larger group of people you do not know but share a common interest with. There is no good way in Twitter to do this (no, hashtags don’t count). Groups can for example be used to make announcements or to get feedback from people also interested in topic X. They are probably the most powerful microblogging mechanism out there because they easily enable communication in large groups without much hassle. You simply join the group and then put !groupname in the message whenever you have something to share with the group. On Twitter (unless you are one of those people followed by a lot of people) your best chance of getting an important message read by a lot of people is to have it reposted (retweeted) by one of the influential people who are followed by a huge crowd. And then you still can’t be sure to reach the people you actually want to reach. One could say identi.ca’s groups make this whole process more democratic.

Summary: Twitter is a simple tool and being simple is a big part of the things that made it popular and successful. It however encourages communication from one to a few selected people who are following you. Identi.ca on the other hand encourages communication between a lot of people who don’t necessarily need to follow each other and thereby empowers people if they choose to use it that way. This makes it slightly more complicated for someone who starts using it though. So the question is: How does one explain groups in an easy and comprehensible way?

(In case you have no idea what this is all about check out my Social Media Guide For Free Software Projects for an introduction.)