Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Chinese Twitter (English version)

Now available on the US App Store: Sina Weibo 微博 download here: then follow me at and see why 200M users like it.

Note: to create an account you'll need some rudimentary knowledge of Chinese (either from something like Google Translate or from a helpful friend).  I assume they're working on an English version of the web site too of course.



Saturday, June 11, 2011

Books versus Conversations

There are two major ways we humans express ourselves: books and conversations.

A well-written book has the advantages of being an exhaustive treatment of a complex topic, but sometimes the length or completeness of a book is inappropriate. “I just asked him for a simple reply to my email but he wrote a novel instead.” If that novel wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, the effort to understand and then respond to it is greater than whatever result I’m hoping to get back.

A conversation, on the other hand, is tentative and ephemeral. If I speak poorly, you can ask me for clarification; if I make an error, you can correct me. A conversation, by definition, is a collaborative act. A one-sided conversation is an oxymoron.

Some conversations are just idle chit-chat, a way to pass the time; but a good conversation, like a good book, leads somewhere, bringing you to an ending that feels like progress on the road of life.

Social networking services are moving us more to a conversational lifestyle rather than a book-like consumption lifestyle. A blog isn’t much fun if nobody responds to what I write; Twitter and Facebook resemble blogs except they’ve made the interactivity—the conversational aspects—much easier.

A book is the distillation of a long series of conversations. A well-written book has value because it saves the reader the time it would have taken to have the conversations that led to the conclusions in the book.

Book Drop: No Books, Please

Photo thanks to

Facebook’s addicting even if you don’t admit it

It’s a few minutes before the next meeting. Or maybe it’s right before dinner is ready. Or there’s a commercial on TV. Or it’s time to go to bed. Or get up.

What’s your first thought at each of these moments? Check Facebook! It’s a continuous stream of what’s happening among the people and interests in my life, and it gets more and more useful every day. No wonder more than 100 million Americans log in daily. It’s the most popular web site in the world, and it will keep getting more so.

Many of my friends are silent on Facebook, but I know they’re there, lurking, watching, reading all of my updates. Even the shy ones, or those who think they have nothing themselves to say…they still watch.

Japan’s Mixi social networking service (of which I am a member, though rarely active) has a great feature that lets you know when somebody has visited your profile. I wish Facebook had something like that. I bet we’d all be surprised – impressed – at the number of our silent friends who actually watch everything we do.