Asymmetrical Follow: A Core Web 2.0 Pattern

James delivers a post on Asymetrical Follow that is well worth reading. There are a couple of interesting underlying issues that coalesce in Twitter, but for me there is a downside in that social networks in general – you know, the meatspace – don’t work with this degree of asymmetry in relationships either. Maybe James is right though, web 2.0 is premised on the ability to have asymmetry and deal with it.

I’m not suggesting this is a flaw in Twitter but the reality can’t be escaped, at some point we shifted from conversation to broadcast.

I have been giving Asymmetrical Follow a fair amount of thought lately. Certainly reaching 3000 followers has something to do with it. For me Twitter is a tool, as well as a conversation. Yesterday I got a request from a PR agency to brief me on a mobile IM technology called Palringo. I had never heard of it. But plenty of people in my network had. And I could engage with them because they could use an @reply which I would see, even though I didn’t necessarily follow them back. As a researcher this kind of function is invaluable. Just imagine the power of Jeremiah Owyang’s twinstant research network of 17,019 followers.

[From James Governor’s Monkchips » Asymmetrical Follow: A Core Web 2.0 Pattern]

The other observation I will make is that there is a law of accelerating returns at work with Twitter follow/follower relationships. Simply put, the more followers you have the more you will get because the rate of growth accelerates as you get to higher numbers.

I think James raises some really good points and is insightful in how he articulates them, but there’s something at play here that I can’t quite put a finger on and it’s not a net positive.

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Academic Elites

All told, of Obama’s top 35 appointments so far, 22 have degrees from an Ivy League school, MIT, Stanford, the University of Chicago or one of the top British universities. For the other slots, the president-elect made do with graduates of Georgetown and the Universities of Michigan, Virginia and North Carolina.

[From For Many Picks, Obama Turns to Academic Elites - washingtonpost.com]

Yeah, a whole bunch of those Ivy League degrees were running things on Wall St., and that turned out really well.

More on the subject, despite claims from alumni from other schools, the only Ivy League schools are Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Univ of Pennsylvania, and Yale. That is it, there are no other schools in this league, and it’s called a “league” because these geographically proximate schools formed a football conference in 1956. It is now a brand associated with the pinnacle of higher education, but before that it was a bunch of young men on a football field.

Tribune Co Bankruptcy UPDATED: Black Monday — Tribune Co. Files for Bankruptcy

I looked back at what I wrote when Zell first announced the deal to buy the Tribune Company. I was cautious at the time to not offer an opinion about the sanity of a newspaper company at that time, instead focusing on the fact that the guy staked the entire deal with $315m of his own money, quite a small amount of the $8b the total deal was worth. So basically, Zell won’t “lose billions” on this because he didn’t have billions at risk.

Clearly the bankruptcy is focused not on stemming cash bleed out but restructuring the big pile of debt they have on top of them. The ESOP will lose but apparently the pension fund is overfunded so it’s starting to look like an airline bankruptcy.

Tribune chief Zell has released a statement: “Over the last year, we have made significant progress internally on transitioning Tribune into an entrepreneurial company that pursues innovation and stronger ways of serving our customers. Unfortunately, at the same time, factors beyond our control have created a perfect storm — a precipitous decline in revenue and a tough economy coupled with a credit crisis that makes it extremely difficult to support our debt.”

[From UPDATED: Black Monday -- Tribune Co. Files for Bankruptcy ]

I do find it curious that when a newspaper goes bankrupt everyone blames the economy, but when a car company is facing bankruptcy the universal truth is that it’s because they make crappy products. The truth is somewhere in the middle, in the case of car companies it’s because of product and inability to finance purchase issues, and in the case of newspapers it’s because they have gone out of their way to alienate so many segments of the market that they have no base of support, which when compounded by plummeting advertising rates and high labor costs, it all adds up to a big stinking pile of structural problems.

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IPhone touch screen unfriendly to women’s nails

Gloves are a problem as well. I was in NYC last week and found myself increasingly annoyed that I had to take off a glove in order to use my iPhone.

San Francisco attorney Claire Choo wouldn’t trade her iPhone 3G for anything.

But she’ll be the first to tell you the phone’s touch screen has presented a challenge for her and many others like her. No, not lawyers – women with long nails.

[From IPhone touch screen unfriendly to women's nails]

Not all PR Email is Drudgery

From an email I received today, I appreciated the levity and creative writing skills displayed:

As always, please do let me know if these dulcet announcements are not aligned with your 4th estate sensibilities, in which case I will act to swiftly, irrevocably (I hope) and incontrovertibly axe you from this list. :)