Tag Archives: social media

Rebel Mouse Makes It Easier for Others to Understand You

Article first published as Rebel Mouse Makes It Easier for Others to Understand You on Technorati.

Last week Paul Berry, former CTO of the Huffington Post, launched his new Rebel Mouse social aggregation service. My first reaction was, “Oh great! Just what I need, another social media service.” However, as I like to keep abreast on new technologies and platforms can change how we work and live, I thought I would check it out.

I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

A Bit of an Epiphany

I wasn’t surprised by Rebel Mouse’s feature set (although it is quite rich: not only can you aggregate social streams, you can add posts, invite contributors, and analyze all of your traffic—giving you a new blogging and publication option beyond Tumblr, WordPress and SquareSpace). What I was surprised by was a more visceral reaction:

Rebel Mouse took my social media stream and made it much easier to grok.

One Dimension Is No Longer Enough

Twitter greatest strength, its simplicity, is also a weakness. Twitter’s one-dimensional, time-based streams tend to get overwhelmed by noise-of-the-day. Step back through someone’s Twitter stream and you will see clusters of Tweets about Yammer, then Tweets about the Facebook IPO, then Tweets about Instagram, etc. Even worse, the stream consists almost entirely of fonts of single size (only using color to differentiate hyperlinks).

Facebook’s Timelines improve on this by adding inline photos and videos, expanding upon the amount of text you have, etc. However, it is still a one-dimensional (time-based) stream. Tumblr is the same (albeit prettier).

These approaches present information in a way that requires a lot of conscious effort to consume. This was fine when social media services were small. However, it not scalable to size of social networks today.

Rebel Mouse: Moving Beyond One Dimension

Rebel Mouse, does not just aggregate your content; it presents it in way that makes it easy for others to subconsciously consume. This is not only achieved by its use of the Masonry layout (now better known as the “Pinterest-style UI”). Rebel Mouse adds some clever UI design elements that let you easily—and instantly—understand the topic of the post, see what you added social content, and differentiate this from comments, shared source material, etc.:

rebelmousedesign

This takes what the best of what people love about Twitter (simplicity) with Pinterest (visual browsing) and Tumblr and WordPress (blogging and analytics) and puts them together in a single package. This looks simple, but it is BIG accomplishment. The value is clear: If I wanted someone to rapidly and easily get a perspective on what interests me, I would recommend they first go to the my Rebel Mouse page (rather than my other of my social media pages):

HaughwoutRM

What Comes Next

In the “Post-Facebook IPO World” it is now more important than ever to ask what comes next (and how this creates business value). An obvious way Rebel Mouse can make money is charge users for value-add services: vanity domains for individuals, pages for corporations, expanded analytics, eCommerce integration, etc. It looks like most of these are already on Rebel Mouse’s (publicly-disclosed) radar.

However, the foundation Rebel Mouse has achieved (i.e., subconsciously consumption of mass content from multiple streams) opens two additional doors.

  1. It could create a fantastic Discovery Service. Imagine an easy-to-consume Rebel Mouse page aggregating content on a specific business topic (e.g., mobile), products, or even personalities. I am pretty sure I would subscribe to and read many such pages, many times each day to discover new information.
  2. It could create an exchange to deliver incredibly relevant ads. Furthermore, these ads would be more valuable than other socially driven ads as you are much more likely to be in a purchasing mindset if viewing a business topic, product or personality page, than your are if you are just checking in on your friends.

It will be great to see these and other services come to fruition. Until then, I recommend requesting a page and grabbing your name—before someone else does.

Using Twitter To Learn If #Irene Has Destroyed All I Own

Article first published as Using Twitter to Learn if Irene Has Destroyed All I Own on Technorati.

I have weathered many hurricanes in my life. Twice I have even had the eye of a hurricane pass right above where I lived (once in New England, once in Virginia). However, this time with Hurricane Irene, is a little scarier for my family: I am right in the middle of moving from the UK to the NYC area and all of my worldly goods are sitting in one 20-foot shipping container just south of Newark Airport—if the area floods we lose everything we own.

Not surprisingly, I have been spending much time trying to find out if Irene has flooded this very important (to me) storage warehouse. Calling the emergency telephone numbers to ask would be irresponsible: emergency personnel are working 24×7 to ensure public safety; it is important to let them do their jobs safely. As such, I have turned to the Internet to find out what is happening.

irenelocal-360pxI looked the websites of the National Hurricane Center, the City of Newark, and various (global and local) news sites. They were good, but almost entirely focused on regional updates, not local ones. They could not tell me if the neighborhoods I was most concerned about were “o.k.”—or if it was time to dig out the telephone numbers for the insurer of my move.

It turns out I found the best information on Twitter. Specifically, I the Tweets by @CityofNewarkNJ (Official Twitter Account of the City of Newark) and @CoryBooker (Newark’s Mayor) have been the most useful. They have told me exactly which streets are flooded and even include pictures of flooding (to let you know how bad things are). The information they are posting is up-to-date, topical, local, accurate—and tremendously beneficial.

So far, we are doing o.k. I am still keeping my fingers crossed—especially for the thousands of families much closer to flooding and the thousands of people trying to help keep them safe. However, I am very grateful that cities like Newark are embracing every channel at their disposal—including new channels like Twitter—to keep their citizens informed.