I Don’t Care What You Say – I Think Foursquare is Awesome

I wrote about a really cool new feature on Foursquare today, called it “must-have,” and now am seeing a fair amount of cynical backlash. People get upset when you get excited about Foursquare – they think it’s overhyped, they want to see less coverage of it, less effusive coverage of it, more critical coverage, more discretion over what we tech bloggers get breathlessly excited about so that they the readers needn’t be bothered by anything but the rare, guaranteed win that they must pay attention to.

Well that’s not how it works, folks. We get excited, I get excited, about potential. About early startups that are opening our eyes to new possibilities for utility and value creation. I don’t know which ones will work out long-term and I don’t really care. When I write about technologies, I write about what they do for me and what I like about them.

Note that one commenter below makes a good counter-argument.
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Why I Love the Internet So Much

So I’m editing OpenStreetMap tonight (for the first time) and I find a place a few miles from my house called the Vanport Wetlands. The map says there’s a radio tower there, that it belongs to the radio station KGW AM and that it was built in May of 1984. Very cool. Makes me wish I had an OpenStreetMap augmented reality app on my phone, or some way to easily see information about all the Points of Interest on OpenStreetMap within a given area around where I am.

But then I highlight the letters KGW AM in my browser and my browser plug-in from Apture pops up. Ok, first I searched the wetlands with Apture and learned about its history, saw some photos – awesome augmentation of OpenStreetMap. But then I searched KGW AM and I found a link to a website about the history of Portland’s radio stations. One of the entries was about the Vanport radio tower being decommissioned for wetlands restoration in the year 2000! The history page says that the local Port Authority built a multi-media website about the tower’s history as penance. But the website is no longer up- there’s a domain squatter on it now.

Enter Archive.org! I loaded the tower memorial site in Archive.org, read all about it, then went back and edited the OpenStreetMap entry for the tower in the wetlands to include a note saying it was decommissioned and the link to the memorial site via archive.org! Now future users of OpenStreetMap will be able to see that new historical note. Thanks internet!

How awesome is that?? I think it’s crazy awesome. So many different trends intersect in that experience: community edited content, location, contextual search ala Apture, blogging or at least easy publishing ala the local radio history site and do not forget content archiving thanks to the fabulous Archive.org!

The end result? Meaningful enrichment of my relationship with the place I live, and an opportunity for me to further enrich the relationships others have with this place.

I sure do love the internet. I’m sure those old radio shows broadcast through that tower were cool too – but media is changing radically, is it not?

The Top 35 UX Blogs (According to Google) and How to Search Them All at Once

In looking to write about the forthcoming Twitter push notifications tonight, I grabbed a list of the top 35 UX (user experience) blogs, according to Google’s new blog finder feature. (Didn’t know about that? ReadWriteWeb was the only leading blog that covered it.) The algorithm isn’t that great, in terms of ranking, but it took me from nothing to a whole lot of something in a hurry. It was more an experiment than anything else, to see how well Google’s new blog directory search worked. You know what else might prove useful? Googling for “top UX blogs” and finding human-compiled lists like this one from Whitney Hess.

I usually have much more extensive and rigorous processes for identifying the top blogs in a niche, but I needed something quick and dirty tonight. The real bummer? None of these blogs have ever written about the UX of push notifications! Amazing! I’m pinging some UX pros on Twitter though to see if they’ll comment for a write-up.

In the mean time, someone asked me on Twitter “what are the top 35 UX blogs online?” so I thought I’d share my work. Again, this is quick and dirty. But it’s better than nothing. My list so far is below and you can search the archives of all these blogs from this one URL. I even added 9 more from Hess and still nothing! Can you believe Bokardo, for example, has never blogged the phrase “push notifications”??

Identifying the top blogs in a niche is something I sometimes do for consulting clients and you’d better believe my deliverables are a lot prettier than this 🙂 but it’s 1:30 AM and I’m trying to write a blog post. I made this list and the custom search engine to search years of UX blogging experience in about 10 minutes, in case you’re curious. Boom!

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How One Advanced Search Operator Just Made Me Jump for Twitter Joy

“-source:Twitterfeed” Those were the magic characters. My longtime RSS mentor Marjolein Hoekstra told me about it tonight. From now on, the Twitter search results page I keep bookmarked and camp on day will be results for the search “benbarden OR qthrul OR marshallk OR rwwmike OR RWW OR sarahintampa OR chcameron OR fredericl OR curthopkins OR alexwilliams OR audreywatters OR adrjeffries OR klintron -source:TwitterFeed” (Those are my co-workers.) Ohhh, yeah!

I like Twitterfeed, but there are SO many spammers who use it that search results get pretty messy. I can deal with weak signal to noise ratios (I do it for a living, in fact) but if there’s an easy way to improve it, I’m pretty excited.

I Wrote the Foreword to A Really Good (Free) Book

Last month I wrote the foreword to a new book called The Shift: The Evolving Market, Players and Business Models in a 2.0 World and it’s now available – for free! It’s essentially a marketing vehicle for the very large telecommunication infrastructure provider Alcatel-Lucent, but it’s marketing 2.0 of the best kind: the book makes almost zero mention of the company at all. It just talks about how changes in society and mobile internet devices are combining in such a way that network service providers should offer application programming interfaces to a wider developer community. It’s a really good real, actually.

My foreword isn’t my best writing, but I was proud to have been given the opportunity. I wrote a better article, one I’m quite proud of in fact, this week about an acquisition the company made: Acquisition Aims to Change History for Mobile Apps & Data.

I recommend reading the book if you’re into thinking about these kinds of topics. You can read selections online and if you want, the company will send you a free paper copy in exchange for your contact info. They may or may not call you, I’m guessing, to discuss whether you’d like to buy a big telephony infrastructure middleware software package. 🙂 Or they may want to talk to you if you’re a developer. Either way, it’s no big whoop and it’s certainly worth it to do all the learning you’ll get from the book. It’s fun.

You can check out the book and its corresponding online community here.

A Startup I’ve Now Used Every Day for the Past Week: Nsyght

Nsyght is a clever service with a terrible name (it’s hard to remember) and stock photo on its home page, but don’t be fooled – it’s really useful. I wrote about it on ReadWriteWeb last week under the title How to Search Inside Twitter Lists, and that’s just what it’s for. After a few minutes to index your stream, Nsyght will let you search inside tweets from your friends, inside particular lists or your own archive for months back in history. It’s awesome. I’ve been using it to filter for images shared by friends on Twitter (great for quick little posts) and to find old Tweets of mine that I can’t find nearly as quickly in any other way. And searching inside a Twitter list of topical experts for their opinions on a particular matter? So hot. It’s like a Custom Search Engine for twitter lists, which is incredibly powerful.

I think of things like this as curating my existing community resources, an all-too under utilized strategy I believe. That’s the kind of thing I’m likely to bring up as a guest tomorrow on Tummelvision.tv, which I cannot recommend highly enough that you check out.