Facebook Editors, Surveillance Privilege, and People Finding People: My Top 3 Twitter Conversations This Week

1 Comment 05.14.16

This morning I was looking around the great subscription tech blog The Information and noticed they have a “comments of the week” blog post, where they highlight the best comments posted over the week by their readers.  I love that!  It’s a great way to really dig into the value that great community conversation offers – and a great way to encourage more.  It’s like the Letters to the Editor section in print media.

All of our networks are rich with opportunity but almost all of us fail to tap into them enough.  I need to be talking to my professional advisors more than I do – but I also want to dig into the inbound conversations I’m having online more than I am.

Toward that end, I want to try doing something inspired by The Information – but based on the place online I’m most active: Twitter.  Thus I offer, for our mutual enlightenment and inspiration, the Top 3 Best Replies I Got on Twitter This Week.  I want to highlight them, put them in context, share the wealth of information available if you follow the people and the content in these conversations, and encourage my network on Twitter (and elsewhere) to meet each other.  I am super grateful to be able to have all these awesome conversations in a given week!

In no particular order…

Gabe Rivera and the Facebook Newsfeed

No doubt you’ve heard the controversy this week over Facebook allegedly instructing contractors editing their super influential top news widget to suppress links to conservative websites.  Jason Calacanis said on This Week in Startups that he thinks a part of it is that many of the conservative sites in question are more focused on commentary than on the kind of original reporting that Facebook wants to highlight.  That’s a fair, well informed guess at part of what’s going on there.

I really like how Gabe Rivera, founder of venerable tech news aggregator Techmeme and great political aggregator Memeorandum, puts it.  Techmeme has had humans helping machines by editing story selection and even headlines for years.  I interviewed his first editor Megan McCarthy 7 years ago.

Gabe Tweets, “A contention (now more poignant): a key avenue for improving News Feed has always been to introduce certain forms of human editorial input.”  I said the winning team is almost always hybrid, intended as an allusion to Tyler Cowan’s writing about human/machine hybrid chess teams, and Gabe replied, “I’m sure it’s hybrid already by some definition. What I’m claiming is per-story moderations could improve NF [newsfeed] experience for all.” (Emphasis added.)  As Cowan says, the future belongs to humble humans collaborating well with intelligent machines.

Andreas Antonopoulos on Surveillance Privilege

I’ve had the incredible privilege this month to facilitate two long conversations between blockchain expert Andreas Antonopoulos and futurist Dr. Wendy Schultz – both, according to our data at Little Bird, the most influential people in the world in their respective fields, blockchain and women futurists.

Antonopoulos told us stories about research into things like mnemonic wallets, where refugees can upload their financial assets into the blockchain, flee across international borders, then retrieve their money later using nothing but a 12 word passcode they have memorized.  And multi-signatory property ownership based on the blockchain, which has been used for example in societies where women have traditionally not been allowed to own property.  With multisig Bitcoin wallets, if one woman’s husband tries to take her property, he’s unable to without the signatures of the other 6 women who all own it together.  Incredible.

I haven’t been able to share these inspiring stories anywhere outside of telling everyone I know in conversation, but I did Tweet the following this week: “If you’re not worried about gov & corp surveillance, you’re among a very privileged fraction of people on earth,” says @

Some people were unclear on what that meant, but Andreas stepped in to the Tweet stream and clarified really well. “Everyone is surveilled. Often that surveillance is by oppressive/brutal governments. Ours isn’t (yet) = privilege.”  As he said in a conversation we had this month, there are 7 billion people on earth and most of them do not have the privilege of shrugging at surveillance.

Sylvian Carle on the Social Graph

I found myself looking at the Likes tab on a few cool peoples’ Twitter profiles on my phone this week and was struck by what a goldmine it is.  It’s another case of getting to leverage someone smart’s judgement and ride along to discover what they discovered.  I said “I spend far too little time on other peoples’ Likes tabs, and I bet you do too.”

To that I got a great reply from Twitter developer advocate turned VC Sylvian Carle, who added “and follow, for people with a small follow list (less than a few hundreds).”  By that he means looking at who the people you follow are following themselves, in particular the really discerning people who follow less than a few hundred people.  Another great reminder.  Back when I was working as a journalist I used to regularly visit the “following” page on the Twitter profiles of rival writers like MG Siegler and Liz Gannes.  They’d meet people face to face in Silicon Valley and follow them on Twitter, then I’d discover them and learn about new companies that way.  Finding the people followed by experts and influencers is core to the discovery power we’ve built at Little Bird, too.  Here’s who Sylvian’s following – some really interesting looking technologists and startups.


Ok, I was going to write about the top 5 conversations I had this week but just putting these 3 in context has taken a good chunk of time.  I also really appreciated threads from Matt Heinz on inspiring B2B marketing thought leaders, Todd Barnard on connections between artificial intelligence, Marshall McLuhan, Flaubert and Voltaire, Ethan Jewett on influencer data analysis and male dominance, Richard MacManus on the distribution of his great new email newsletter Augment Intelligence, my former co-worker Nate Angel on the gender gap in data capture, Adam Duvander on dreams coming true in geolocation APIs and VC Semil Shah on Lemkin bravado, startup growth and scale.

I love Twitter so much!  You should come join me there for fascinating conversations about the future, throughout the day while we work.  I’ve been really busy this month so my numbers are down on Tweet frequency (by 13%) and mentions (24%).  But none the less: the network is rich with opportunity.  And as I say in the tweet I pinned:


HEY: Carbon is a heat trapping gas. We are pumping huge amounts of carbon into the air. It's really dangerous.

Fortunately there's a solution available: Soil carbon sequestration! Check it out!

How good are you at predicting things? Here’s my Brier Score for the week

0 Comments 04.30.16

HBR ran a great article about improving the forecasting abilities of teams this week, (Superforecasting: How to Upgrade Your Company’s Judgement) I highly recommend it, and one of the most interesting tools discussed was something called the Brier Score. It’s an easy way to quantify how well you are doing at accurately forecasting the outcomes of your actions.  It’s pretty simple.  I kept track of my predictions at work and home over this past week and calculated my score, I’ll be excited to see if I can improve it week over week.

I scored a .78 this week over 4 predictions.  You want to get as close to zero as possible. I was wrong about one thing and it really dinged me.

Here’s how you do it.  Write down a forecast about something you can be either right or wrong about, and a degree of confidence you have about your forecast.  For example, I predicted that I was probably going to be invited to join my wife at dinner last night after an event she’s participating in.  We’d discussed whether that would be the case, and we left it open ended – but I had a 60% level of confidence that’s what was going to happen.

And I was right!  So when you’re right with a 60% confidence level, you calculate your score like this: (.60-1)^2 = .16

Now I also predicted this week that a certain woman I admire a lot on the internet was going to be lukewarm about a suggestion we collaborate on a project.  In part just to experiment, I gave that prediction a 70% probability!

And I was wrong!  She was pretty open to it and we’re doing a little experiment together that’s super cool.   I’m really glad I was wrong – but that dinged my Brier Score badly.  When you’re wrong with a 70% confidence level it’s (.70-0)^2=.49.  And we’re looking for as close to zero as possible.  Ouch.

So this week I tracked 4 predictions with confidence levels ranging from 60% to 80% and I was right about the other two, so I added them up and my total score for the week was .78.  We’ll see if I can get it below that next week.

I gave myself some feedback on them where I could, and next week I’m going to think a little harder before committing to predictions.  I’d like to see if there are variations of the Brier Score, or if I should adapt it, to take into consideration the significance of the predictions.  Some of the things I made forecasts this week were much more important than others.

A few other thoughts:

  • Putting more thought into predictions so I’m more confident in them will make my score better when I’m right.
  • Without some normalization, every prediction you make impacts your score negatively.  I want to be thoughtful and keep track of many things throughout the week, so maybe I should say my score was .195 across 4 predictions.
  • There’s more to this but I haven’t drank enough coffee this Saturday morning yet to go much more in depth
  • The HBR article suggested you do this kind of thing with groups of people and figure out who’s best at forecasting.  It also suggested that groups collaborate and receive as little as an hour of structured training on avoiding faulty thinking patterns.  The authors found that those conditions dramatically improve success.
  • I love models like this – they are so powerful and useful!

HEY: Carbon is a heat trapping gas. We are pumping huge amounts of carbon into the air. It's really dangerous.

Fortunately there's a solution available: Soil carbon sequestration! Check it out!

Social listening tips for B2B marketers

0 Comments 04.07.16

I’ve been nominated for the awesome B2B News Network’s Social Listening Influencers Index (nominate someone you love, I swear I don’t know who nominated me but now I love them). When asked questions by the press, there’s always an opportunity for a blog post, too!  (See Dave Winer’s Why I Don’t Do Interviews)

Here are my answers to the questions they asked, I hope you find them useful and check out B2B News Network – they’re a good site.  And I don’t say that just because they gave Little Bird a glowing review!

  1. How can professionals become better social listeners?

A few tips from my experience:

Find credible experts on social media and listen to what they talk about, don’t just listen for the mention of your brand’s own name.

Second, try making a habit of reading 3 or 5 messages in your stream for every 1 you post.

Third, turn on mobile push notifications for selected influencers on Twitter – you’ll really get to know them and the cutting edge of your market that way!

  1. How did you become proficient at social listening? 

The method I’ve developed over the years is: (1) oversubscribe, (2) then create a filtered feed of just the highest-priority sources. Then (3) create a system that makes it easy to see almost everything from the high priority list (mobile push notifications, browser bookmarks). Then (4) dip into the general non-priority feed from time to time to see what serendipity delivers.  Repeat! Engage!

  1. What’s different about listening for brands vs b2b? 

There’s a lot of overlap, but in B2B – a single conversation can include insight that informs a company’s whole strategy or opens up a big line of business.  A mention is less likely to drive a lot of direct sales (I don’t know how much that really happens in B2C either, directly) but is more likely to help inform would-be-buyers when they see favorable mentions showing up in search.  So listen, engage, and earn supportive engagement in return.  Also, B2B influencers may be more interested in two way dialogue, whereas B2C listening is more closely associated with immediately transactional relationships.

  1. How does social intelligence help YOUR business? What do you use it for? 

We use social intelligence to look for opportunities; opportunities to find new customers, opportunities to be informed early about important trends, and opportunities to help the customers we already have with their efforts.  By systematically watching the social web for a combination of source-based, validated, popular, and keyword-laden conversations, we discover all kinds of opportunities.

  1. How is social intelligence related to content marketing?

Social intelligence surfaces opportunities to curate content and build relationships upstream and downstream.  It surfaces inspiration of topics, trends, keywords, and collaborators for all kinds of content marketing efforts.

  1. What is the best way to reach/follow you? (Twitter handle, email, etc)

@Marshallk, marshall@getlittlebird.com and 1-503-703-1815


How’s that look to you? Disagree with any of the above? Thanks for stopping by!

HEY: Carbon is a heat trapping gas. We are pumping huge amounts of carbon into the air. It's really dangerous.

Fortunately there's a solution available: Soil carbon sequestration! Check it out!

I’ve been tweeting for 9 years! Here’s what I’ve learned

1 Comment 03.07.16

It’s been 9 years today that I’ve been on Twitter. It’s a huge part of my life.  So much so that I started a company based on it.  I wrote over on the Little Bird blog today all about some of the things I’ve learned over these 9 years.  I hope you’ll check it out – and check out Little Bird.

HEY: Carbon is a heat trapping gas. We are pumping huge amounts of carbon into the air. It's really dangerous.

Fortunately there's a solution available: Soil carbon sequestration! Check it out!

Authentic marketing at scale

0 Comments 12.03.15

As the world moves away from believing as much as it used to in brand communication, toward a world of networked peer communication and a real emphasis on authenticity, I think there’s a new way to achieve scale.

Picture a person who’s earned a big, relevant, audience online because they’re smart, entertaining, and they have good taste. In B2B, they’re probably forward looking, well-connected, and good at critical thinking. You can’t BS them, at least not easily.

One-to-one communication with people like that is a powerful new way to communicate with the world at scale. If you can win them over, they’ll tell their large, relevant, audience about your business. When they do, it will be more relatable, authentic, and credible than anything your brand voice says directly to the world.

In order for smart, well-connected, critical thinking people who have built big audiences to tell those audiences about you – you’re going to have to communicate with them one-to-one, authentically, credibly, and probably over time. You’ll want to be strategic about it, because lots of people want the attention of people like that. Unless it’s available for sale, you’re going to need to earn it.

I made a little white board sketch about it.

Communicating with your target market at scale, by building authentic relationships with credible market influencers.

Communicating with your target market at scale, by building authentic relationships with credible market influencers.

The idea here is that your company wants to communicate at scale with your target market but that market now has a shield of authenticity around it. Direct brand communication is too often inauthentic and thus ineffective. But influencers have authentically earned credibility and can speak to your market at scale. Thus, communicating one-to-one with them, with authentically earned credibility, is a way to achieve that scale. To do so, be relevant, interesting, consistent, and use flattery while maintaining your dignity.

All of this is made easier than ever, of course, by the technology we’re building at Little Bird.

HEY: Carbon is a heat trapping gas. We are pumping huge amounts of carbon into the air. It's really dangerous.

Fortunately there's a solution available: Soil carbon sequestration! Check it out!

Into the future we go! Life after CEO’ing at Little Bird

0 Comments 12.01.15

We announced today that Little Bird has closed a new round of financing and I have changed roles at the company.  Long-time COO Ben Kaufman is now CEO, bringing tons of experience and smarts to the top of the organization – and my new role is co-founder, company evangelist and chairman of the board. I am really excited to rock this new position and spread the word far and wide about the power of discovering influential expert voices and insights on the social web.

I’m focused on telling the world about Little Bird (something I love to do), and opening doors for technical integrations with other products in the marketing tech stack and beyond.  Our company announcement is here and we got some nice local press from Oregon Live and the Portland Business Journal.

Big, big thanks to Mark Cuban, Jason Calacanis, Oregon Angel Fund and all our awesome investors.  I’m really proud to get to work with them and will forever be grateful for their support. I’m super thankful for my wife whom I love (Mikalina was essential to founding the company with me). Thanks to co-founder Tyler Gillies. And to the great team we’ve built to propel the company into the future.  There’s a lot more to do.

If you haven’t seen Little Bird lately – it’s not like other “influencer marketing” platforms.  If it’s been awhile (or never), I’d be honored to walk you through it personally.  This is the kind of thing people say when we do that together:

Being CEO these past few years has been a great learning adventure.  Now I’m excited to take things to the next level by focusing on my strengths: connecting with the world at large, largely through the social web.

My last public act under the CEO title was this morning’s live Ask Me Anything on Product Hunt, but I’ll be aiming to do a lot more stuff like that as company evangelist.

And now, into the future we go! Drop us a line and we’ll show you what we’re building.

HEY: Carbon is a heat trapping gas. We are pumping huge amounts of carbon into the air. It's really dangerous.

Fortunately there's a solution available: Soil carbon sequestration! Check it out!

Overzealous surveillance puts innovation at risk

0 Comments 12.01.15

The FBI has been demanding web browsing, cell location and other data from technology providers, without a warrant, for over a decade, it was demonstrated this week with a court ruling that ungagged a National Security Letter delivered to an internet service provider.  Techmeme coverage roundup here.

You know why this bothers me?  For lots of reasons, but here’s one: it puts this gorgeous platform of the web at risk. This is going to be a big struggle for the next few years: the tension between our desire to better know ourselves and build on top of the data created by our online activity on one hand and the government’s desire to keep us safe on the other hand.

Overzealous surveillance puts at risk the public support that’s essential for innovation platforms that present opportunities to move the human experience forward in really important ways.  This global communication network is really important, let’s not screw up its future.

One example: If you’re a user of the Foursquare mobile location platform, you’ve probably noticed how they’ve begun tracking your location persistently and sending you a push notification making it really easy to check in when you stop moving at a particular public place.  It’s something I’ve hoped they’d do for years.  Why?  Because 3 years ago today I was visiting a friend in a beautiful place, I took pictures, I checked in to the coffee shop and restaurants we went to, and now I can see all of that and more rolled-up together in my daily time capsule from Timehop.   That’s the story of my life. That data provides a structure that I wrap a narrative understanding of my life around.  I want that data capture to be easier so I capture more of it.  But I want the data for myself!

Understanding my life means two things: optimization and meaning. (That’s just begging for two more blog posts.) Think of the inverse: less meaning and less opportunity for optimization.  I do not want that – I want software developers to be able to build technology on top of my data that help me better understand and improve my life.

Software developers can only do that if there are a bunch of people excited about using data platforms.  For example, Foursquare and Timehop wouldn’t exist (free for users!) if there weren’t millions of people excited about using them.

It’s one thing for commercial interests to use that data for improved ad targeting – everybody’s got to pay the bills.  I think society has already accepted that.  Europeans have cookie warnings. Fine, we’re good.

But if law enforcement keeps slurping up all our data and looking over our shoulders, without due process like warrants and in cases where we’re supposed to still be presumed innocent, that just seems like a recipe for public backlash, withdrawal from the web and collapse of the beautiful opportunity that is data.  Call it data, call it quantified self, I think of it in terms of optimization and meaning.  Better understanding ourselves, each other, and the world equals a big step in human evolution.  That’s what I want. When society’s need for safety and control puts that at risk, I think it’s a big deal.  Not just because of what it means for the present – but what it means for the future.

HEY: Carbon is a heat trapping gas. We are pumping huge amounts of carbon into the air. It's really dangerous.

Fortunately there's a solution available: Soil carbon sequestration! Check it out!