How the New Facebook Utterly Destroyed my Favorite Application (and Why That Makes Me Sad)

I used to love Feedheads. It’s a simple, elegant and beautiful application that does one thing really well: help you share your Google reader shared items.

Unfortunately, the “new” Facebook has rendered the application utterly useless and I can’t think of a good way, as an end-user, to fix it. In fact, as someone who’s built two facebook apps, I can’t even think of a way that the Feedheads developers can fix it. What a calamity.

So here’s the problem: the News Feed (and the Mini Feed) introduced an option that allows end-users to set the story “size.” When a Google shared item story comes through Feedheads now, it defaults to the “one line” size and as a result, it doesn’t say anything other than “Chris posted an item to Feedheads.”

Thank you very much, Facebook. That piece of information is completely useless. People who are reading your feed need to click through into the Feedheads application in order to see what story you posted — and the whole point of Feedheads is to help you share your shared items, not make them harder to find.

(As a result of all this, Facebook also broke one of my applications, called WhyI. It has < 200 users, so very few people care, but . . . the point of the app was to help people ask themselves and their friends questions that have to be answered in five words or fewer. And of course, the questions and answers would show up in the Mini Feed and News Feed. But not anymore! Now it just says: “Chris posted a new mini-update using WhyI.” Again, a totally useless piece of information. Drats.)

As an end-user, I can set the “size” of each feed item. So that means, after I hit Shift-S in Google Reader — which doesn’t take much effort — I have to wait for the story to be published in Facebook and then, if I remember (which at this point is unlikely), I have to go into that little drop down on the right and set the size to “small” instead of the default, which is “one line.” And here’s the best part: I can’t tell Facebook to remember this, so I have to do it every time.

All this just to share a shared item on Google Reader through Feedheads . . . ick.

Here’s the best part. I just noticed that Facebook added their own feature to the new and “improved” news feed. You can import your shared items from Google Reader! And, not surprisingly, the news feed actually shows the stories’ titles. In other words, Facebook took a great application — Feedheads — and replaced the functionality with their own feature; in the process, they rendered Feedheads useless.

This makes me sad. I only have one thing to say:

Wow, Facebook, how very Microsoft of you.

Nobody’s Gonna Read This (and Why That Makes Me Happy)

Boy do I love the fact that no one reads this blog. And to the few people who are exceptions to that general rule — thank you for being so supportive!

I just hit two or three web pages in a row (TechCrunch, Digg and the Meebo blog) wherein each post I read had 80+ comments that reminded me why I rarely ever actually read comments.

Haters, trolls, flamers, spammers — whatever you want to call them, the internet is ridden with people who are filled with spite and rage. The funny thing is that in no other forum (except for perhaps while driving) are people this cruel to one another. It’s just not socially acceptable.

I realize that e-hate isn’t a new problem: in fact, it dates back to the early days of UseNet, Netiquette and the ol’ “do we allow AOLer’s on the internet” debate. While doing some fact-checking on wikipedia, I was really amused to read about Godwin’s Law, which sums up what I’m talking about better than I ever could: “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

We all know the Kathy Sierra story. I’m glad she had a thick enough skin to re-emerge in the blogging world and on Twitter because the world is a better place with her contributions than it is without them.

We all remember The Great Sarah Lacy Twitter Massacre of SXSW 2008. I recently met Sarah at a tech event in DC and, believe it or not, she doesn’t have horns, literally or figuratively.

Jason Calacanis recently “retired” from blogging. When I read his post, I immediately thought that it was just a PR stunt, but I’m beginning to realize that I can sympathize with his viewpoint. I really don’t want to ever be an A-list blogger or “internet famous” because it’s just like painting a big target on your own ass.

I love my family and close friends, I love the physical neighborhood in which I live and I love the virtual networks that have developed around my career and my passions for the past 15 years or so that I’ve been using the internet.

But honestly, a big part of me doesn’t want anyone else to read this. Not because I don’t take criticism well. (I don’t, but then again nobody does.) I just wish some of the same general rules that apply to social interactions — at say, a cocktail party, a baseball game or at the supermarket — would apply to the internet.

Comments welcome. Just be nice, ok?

Our Web 2.0 Strategy

Here at bdg 2.0, we plan to capture long-tail ecologies by disintermediating citizen-media value while we integrate Cluetrain life-hacks to aggregate user-centered podcasts, blogging and tag clouds that reinvent social ad delivery and syndication while designing rich-client widgets that enable rss-capable peer-to-peer communities to engage user-centered folksonomies.*

*Courtesy of the Web 2.0 B.S. Generator

Chris Bucchere Speaking at the NovaRUG on June 18th, 2008

Calling all local Rubyists! I’m speaking about modular page design in Ruby on Rails at tomorrow night’s NovaRUG. The title of my talk is “To Portal or Not to Portal: How to Build DRY, Truly Modular Mashups in Rails.”

The meat of my talk is going to come from these two recent blog posts:

Modular Page Assembly in Rails (Part 1)
Modular Page Assembly in Rails (Part 2)

I’ll be followed by Arild Shirazi of FGM giving a presentation entitled “CSS for Developers.”

Get all the details here.

P.S.: Free pizza!

The Social Collective Debuts at RubyNation

We’re very pleased to announce that, together with the organizers of RubyNation, we debuted our social application “The Social Collective” today as a means for RubyNation conference attendees and other Rubyists to meet and interact with their peers.

This is a very similar codebase to what we deployed at BEA Participate in May, but without ALI or ALBPM. These BEA (now Oracle) products provided a great, scalable and flexible architecture, but we didn’t feel it was a good use of our resources (i.e. $$$s) to continue to use these products and we didn’t want to pass this cost on to RubyNation, which, BTW, is only charging $175 for two jam-packed days of Ruby awesomeness.

So, for those of you who have been following all this social goodness coming from bdg, there are now two distinct versions of The Social Collective: one that uses BEA/Oracle products and one that does not. This affects pricing (obviously), so if you’re interested in either, please contact us to find out more.

And in the meantime, if you’re as gung ho about Ruby as we are, sign up for an account and help us grow the Ruby community here in DC and beyond!

This Just In — BEA Participate Social App Stats

I find this a little hard to believe, but the numbers don’t lie. We had a whopping 75,000 page views the week of the conference!

That’s more than 100 page views per registered attendee. This chart was from our hottest day, Tuesday, 5/13.

5-13-08(3)Thanks to everyone for using our application. I think we may be on to something here!

I <3 Usage Data

There’s nothing better than reviewing usage data for an application you just launched, especially when those data show that people are loving it!

In our first week since the application went live, we’ve had more than 300 account registrations. That alone is a significant accomplishment. But it gets better. Here are some more stats:

  • 350+ messages sent (Rumbles and Private Messages)
  • 200+ podmob (Twitter) messages
  • 100+ shout-outs (pokes)
  • 100+ links and feeds added
  • 200+ groups created
  • 500+ mob adds (contacts)
  • 3000+ breakout session registrations
  • 3500+ notable actions (that have appeared in the Observation Deck feed)

We’ve also had almost 6000 page views since Monday and over 10,000 page views last week, our first week “in business.”

What’s even more encouraging is that I’ve seen a surge in shoutouts, messaging and group activity as the conference approaches. And it hasn’t even started yet! I expect our heaviest usage to come during the conference, although hopefully not the way it did on Twitter during Sarah Lacy’s SXSW08 interview of Mark Zuckerberg.

Announcing the Launch of the Social Applications for BEA Participate ’08

You’ve heard the phrase “social applications” being kicked around by BEA and bdg. But what exactly does that mean?

In a nutshell, it means that your experience at BEA.Participate.08 will be like that of no other conference you’ve ever attended. In fact, it may change the entire way you feel about technology conferences.

After registration, you’ll be directed to a web site where you can help us kick off this grand social experiment. During registration, you’ll be asked to fill out a corporate profile by selecting or adding your company, your department, your title and some biographical information. You’ll be asked what products (from BEA or elsewhere) you’re currently using and what products interest you. You’ll be able to “pimp” your profile with an avatar or photo, links, and RSS feeds. Finally, you’ll be asked to take a stab at registering for different Participate.08 breakout sessions. (Don’t worry, you can always come back later and make changes to your breakout session agenda.)

At this point, you’ll be directed to a highly-customized installation of BEA ALI 6.5 backed by a host of bdg-designed and engineered Ruby on Rails applications which form the core of this groundbreaking social system. Log in and you’ll be presented with a simple, elegant UI for:

  1. browsing and selecting tracks and sessions,
  2. viewing other people’s company and personal profile pages and adding them to your “mob,”
  3. sending “shout outs” other users (a playful way to get people’s attention),
  4. sending private (mail) or public (podmob) messages to other people,
  5. browsing and interacting with product pages,
  6. asking questions at a breakout session (through the session rumble),
  7. joining and leaving interest groups focused on industries, products or “whatever,”
  8. updating your status (to let others know where you are, what your mood is, etc.),
  9. browsing an aggregate feed (the observation deck) which allows you to see what others are doing prior to, at (and even after) the conference.

On top of all this social application goodness, everyone who attends Participate will receive an iPod Touch, with 802.11b/g wireless baked in. (Of course, the conference hotel will have lightening fast free wireless internet access.) In addition to a sleek full-sized browser experience, most of the applications will also be optimized for the iPod Touch (or iPhone) form factor. This means that wherever you are at the conference — sitting in a session, wandering the halls or the partner pavilion, even taking a bathroom break — you’ll be able to network, network, network with your fellow conference attendees.

Let’s face it: are you attending the conference to hear a talking head rattle off lists of features in ALUI or ALBPM? No! You’re going to Participate to learn from your peers. And not just in sessions, but in the halls, during the meals, at the evening events and of course, through these amazing social applications.

So, don’t waste any more time reading about this stuff — come on in and let’s get social!