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Tumblr iOS App Update:Get version 3.6.2 of the Tumblr iOS app from the App Store. Tapping tags now filter posts on individual blogs. Plus, you’ll find an option to search all of Tumblr for the tag. When you tap the magnifying glass icon (also known as the Explore tab), the app showcases blogs using the blog appearance settings. Also, Tumblr changed new user signup when done via the app.

unwrapping:

Tumblr iOS App Update:
Get version 3.6.2 of the Tumblr iOS app from the App Store. Tapping tags now filter posts on individual blogs. Plus, you’ll find an option to search all of Tumblr for the tag. When you tap the magnifying glass icon (also known as the Explore tab), the app showcases blogs using the blog appearance settings. Also, Tumblr changed new user signup when done via the app.

7 Simple Ways To Improve Twitter - Jeremy Toeman →

Jeremy makes some interesting suggestions for Twitter, especially about supporting tags better:

Jeremy Toeman via LIVEdigitally

4. #Explain #Hashtags #Somehow

OK, so a hashtag lets people tweet about one topic, and really only seems to exist because of the brokenness of Twitter search (see above). But most of the hashtags I see make no sense, and even clicking on them doesn’t exactly “answer” the question of why they exist. How about having users “register” a hashtag for a period of time? Even if multiple users do that, it’d be fine. Then when a new user clicks on a hashtag, they can see all the “terms in use at present” to close the loop on it.

parislemon:

Two thoughts:
1) This is the Twitter equivalent of “Drop the ‘the’”
2) He’s right — but…
Twitter basically created (and now is trying to take over) an entire sub-industry (link shortening) because they didn’t plan well for this. Of course, early on, Twitter was largely based around SMS, and there is no metadata payload for SMS, so those links had to be included in the 140 characters themselves (and yes, SMS is 160 characters, but Twitter set aside 20 for usernames). Yet another reason why SMS needs to die.

Talk about a three-year-old discussion. Oh, and what about actually doing something with tags, instead of just treating them like text, while you’re at it.
And if we are moving past the SMS form factor, why not drop the 140 character limitation?

parislemon:

Two thoughts:

1) This is the Twitter equivalent of “Drop the ‘the’”

2) He’s right — but…

Twitter basically created (and now is trying to take over) an entire sub-industry (link shortening) because they didn’t plan well for this. Of course, early on, Twitter was largely based around SMS, and there is no metadata payload for SMS, so those links had to be included in the 140 characters themselves (and yes, SMS is 160 characters, but Twitter set aside 20 for usernames). Yet another reason why SMS needs to die.

Talk about a three-year-old discussion. Oh, and what about actually doing something with tags, instead of just treating them like text, while you’re at it.

And if we are moving past the SMS form factor, why not drop the 140 character limitation?

Tumblr Tweaks: Inheriting Tags In Reblogs

Looks like Tumblr has added a tweak. Until recently, when you reblogged a post whatever tags the author had used didn’t get carried forward. It appear that Tumblr has changed that, so the tags — if any — now are present in the tag edit area. They can be added to, or deleted.

This is a helpful addition, and is likely to increase the use of tags.

Twitter Activity Streams: Surfacing Social Gestures Like Tumblr

Twitter is preparing to roll out a fairly significant rethinking of the user experience for the microstreaming service. They are planning to bring the social gestures that users make out in the open. These gestures are the actions of following people, favoriting tweets, retweets, or adding people to lists. Some of that gestural information has been available in Twitter to date, but most of it hasn’t been found in the stream along with the tweets themselves.

The change will come by changing the ‘@mentions’ tab into two:

MG Siegler, Twitter Comes Alive With Realtime Activity Streams

Specifically, the “@Mentions” tab on twitter.com is being replaced by two new tabs: “@USERNAME” and “Activity”. These two streams will add an additional layer to Twitter and to Tweets themselves, a layer showing the social activity around them.

The @USERNAME (obviously, USERNAME will be replaced by your Twitter name) stream will still show your @replies, but it will also show things like when someone follows you, when someone favorites one of your Tweets, when someone retweets one of your Tweets, or when someone adds you to a list.

The Activity stream will show you all of those things, but related to all of the people you follow on Twitter. In other words, you can see if a connection has retweeted a Tweet, or if they followed someone new, etc.

Siegler doesn’t say that the current Timeline tab — which shows the tweets from you and all that you follow — will remain unchanged, but that is my interpretation at present.

Surfacing social gestures in general — and making favoriting a social preoccupation instead of a not very robust bookmarking tool — is a great way to make Twitter a richer social experience. In fact, this shift feels like Twitter has taken a long hard look at Tumblr, and has decided to capitalize on that social networked blogging platform’s success, which is driven to a great extent by the richness of social gestures, which are presented in stream. Here’s a snippet of my Tumblr stream, showing gestures and a post:

I wrote a piece not too long ago, What Twitter Could Learn From Tumblr, which focused on the efforts that Tumblr has recently put into its support of tags, and curation of tagged topics. (For those still not familiar with Tumblr, you might read Comparing Tumblr To Wordpress.)

But it seems like the social gestures of Tumblr — which are natively presented in the Tumblr stream — will be the first innovation to jump from Tumblr to Twitter.

I wonder if Twitter will take the ‘notes’ idea from Tumblr, as well? In Tumblr, all the social gestures associated with a post can be displayed on that post’s page (depending on the template settings). So If I post something that garners a great deal of interest — getting liked and reposted a great deal — there is a long series of gestures shown on that page. In a sense, the post has it’s own associated stream: all the gestures that it caused.

On Twitter this would mean that the page associated with a tweet — the one reached by clicking on the tweet’s timestamp — might show all the favorites and retweets tied to the tweet. Will have to see if this will be done.

And oh, there is still all that work to be done on tags, which Twitter still doesn’t seem to be very interested in, yet.

Google+, Twitter, And Tumblr

I haven’t been spending much time in Google+ — waiting for the self-referential nature of the system to die down a bit — but Danny Sullivan has been plugging away, and he compares Google+ to Twitter, which is my primary (nearly exclusive) social netwrok:

Danny Sullivan, Google+ Vs. Twitter: A Personal View

On Twitter, my top ten items all came within one minute — and there were more within that same minute, if I’d gone down further. On Google , the top ten items stretched across a seven minute period.

For me, Google is currently less active that Twitter. My gut feeling is that this is due to there still being less activity on Google as a new network than because I’m not following enough people.

[…]

Circles Are Exhausting

As for the Google+ Circles feature, which lets you can organize people into particular groups, that’s now become work to me.

When I first saw Google+ in testing months ago, I though the idea of a new network using the circles concept would be a great “reset” for me and others who felt they’d “done it wrong” in friending on Facebook. Since its launch, I’ve seen many people remark that it is indeed a good reset.

But you know, what I follow on Twitter is a nice collection of people and sources I trust, that I’ve built up over the years. I don’t have the time or energy to try and match that manually on Google+, nor are they all there.

[…]

Right now, what I need more than anything from Google is for it to automagically recreate all the people I already follow on Twitter. Since that’s not going to happen, I really need it to let me easily find people by subject areas. People in technology, in search, in other areas – I want to browse and easily select these groups. Maybe it will come, and certainly if we could publicly share circles, it would help. But I really need it now.

I wrote last week that Circles was going to be too much work (see Is The Juice Worth The Squeeze), and Danny seems to echo that.

The Twitter ‘import’ seems like a no-brainer, but I guess Twitter would block hitting the API for that purpose.

However, Danny’s thoughts on curation of Google+ users and perhaps content seems an interesting path, and obviously something Twitter does, in part. The best example in this area is Tumblr:

Stowe Boyd, What Twitter Could Learn From Tumblr

Tumblr, like most blogging tools, has rich and deep support for tags. In the editor, the user can add tags to posts.

And knowledgeable users can take advantage of the tags, for example, typing in the URL to access posts with a certain tag, like ‘www.stoweboyd.com/tagged/curation’, which leads to Tumblr creating a tag page (or pages) with all the posts with the tag.

Perhaps even more interesting is the recent push by Tumblr to integrate tags with curation in the relatively new Explore capability. Basically, Tumblr has decided that a list of a few dozen very popular and broad categories — like ‘Tech’, ‘LOL’, ‘Comics’, and ‘Fashion’ — should be curated by a mix of algorithm and editorial oversight. Like a media company might do.

Google might want to look at Tumblr, who has been quietly innovating while we are all comparing Google+ to Twitter.

Oh, one last thing: imagine if the debut of Google+ led Twitter to drop the 140 character limit on messages?

What Tumblr Should Do: #2 Fix Tag Editing

I wrote a long piece the other day — What Twitter Could Learn From Tumblr — praising the deep integration of tags in the Tumblr implementation. However, there is a fly in the ointment. The way that tags are edited is a UX mess.

Here’s the Tumblr editor, with the tag edit region to the right:

Tags for the associated post are not entered in the obvious way, as text delimited by commas, as most tool support tags do. Instead, Tumblr has an oddball convention for entering the tags.

First, you move your cursor to the editing region set aside for tags, and you click to select that region. Then you start typing a tag, say ‘cat’, and then you hit enter. Then the text is converted to one of these green box things, after which the tag text is not longer editable. If you misspell a tag you have to delete it and do it over again, which is annoying if your tag is something like ‘things to learn from carlos castenada’.

You can also end a tag by entering a comma, which sounds like a good idea if you imagine that you’d like to enter a series of tags all at once. Note that this is the way that the bookmarklet works: you enter a series of tags as “twitter, liquid media, social tools”. But in the Tumblr editor using the comma sort of works, if you type the comma and wait for Tumbler to recognize it. In that case, the comma works like a return. But if you merrily type along after entering the comma, strange things can happen. In my case I usually end up with a strange collection of tags, like “twitter, l” “iquid media, so’ “cial tools”. On approach that the team at Tumblr might take is simply ignore the comma during typing, and parse only after the return is hit.

But best would be to simply rethink the implementation, making it more user friendly. Especially reworking things so that tags are editable.

There is also a strange problem with tags: they can’t be selected. There is an ‘x’ in each tag box, which is one way that they can be deleted, but otherwise they can’t be selected, which just seems strange. Obviously, if tags are made editable, selection would have an obvious outcome: making the text area editable.

I hope that the nice folks at Tumblr carve out a little time from major UX changes — like the recent Dashboard overhaul — and put some thought into a redo of tag editing.

What Twitter Could Learn From Tumblr

Twitter is on a fast growth path, as shown by recent data, but then the same data show Tumblr growing even faster.

What’s the story?

Ultimately, everything important will appear in the streams first — like the stream of URLs in Twitter, and the stream of reblogs and likes in Tumblr — and those companies that own the streams will be in the best position to provide the complete liquid media user experience to users.Twitter and Tumblr strongly diverge in their treatment of tags. Tumblr has implemented tags as first class metadata, explicitly supported by the Tumblr system, while Twitter continues to treat tags as microsyntax: text conventions invented by users, embedded in the messages. And I think this is a mistake for Twitter, and for the community.

You might counter my claim by saying, “Hey, wait! I use hashtags all the time, and so do others! Twitter supports their use!” But you’d be wrong. Twitter treats hashtags as text, just like all the other characters in a tweet. So if you write a tweet like this —

@JohnFontana: @DeepakChopra channeling his inner @stoweboyd #140conf

— and the ‘#140conf’ text represents that the tweet pertains to the 140 Character Conference (where I spoke yesterday, and so did Deepak Chopra). The important thing to realize is that Twitter does nothing special with the hashtag: it merely retrieves tweets that have that text in them during searches. Period.

Contrast that with the convention of the at sign (‘@stoweboyd’ ‘@deepakchopra’) that originally arose from users indicating who a tweet was intended for, but which Twitter adopted and built into the system at a deep level. Ditto for retweets, which was originally ‘RT’ text, and now is now implemented operationally, as a kind of message. Not so with tags.

Tumblr, on the other hand, like most blogging tools, has rich and deep support for tags. In the editor, the user can add tags to posts:

And knowledgeable users can take advantage of the tags, for example, typing in the URL to access posts with a certain tag, like ‘www.stoweboyd.com/tagged/curation’, which leads to Tumblr creating a tag page (or pages) with all the posts with the tag.

Perhaps even more interesting is the recent push by Tumblr to integrate tags with curation in the relatively new Explore capability. Basically, Tumblr has decided that a list of a few dozen very popular and broad categories — like ‘Tech’, ‘LOL’, ‘Comics’, and ‘Fashion’ — should be curated by a mix of algorithm and editorial oversight. Like a media company might do.

Below, you can see the Explore page for Tech, with the Featured tab selected. This is the view that is curated by a group of Editors, selected by Tumblr’s staff, and provided a different version of the Tumblr dashboard (something I have yet to see, either directly on in a write-up).

You can see that I am featured as a Top Contributor this morning, along with Smarter Planet and a bunch of other folks.

Note that I carefully called the Tech page on Explore a category, and not a tag, per se. I think that what Tumblr has done is create a mapping from a long long list of tags, like ‘apple’ ‘pc’ ‘iphone’ and ‘twitter’, and mapped that to the Tech category. That means I don’t have to explicitly tag my posts as ‘tech’ to be included.

And tags can be pulled from across the entire Twitter universe, using URLs like ‘www.tumblr.com/tagged/paris’ or ‘www.tumblr.com/tagged/liquid_media’. These are examples of tags that have not been promoted to curated categories, like ‘Tech’ or ‘Fashion’, but in the future, Tumblr could always expand the roster of curated categories.

So, Twitter could learn from this in the following ways:

  1. Tumblr tags are metadata, and could be built-in more natively into the Twitter experience. For example, just as Twitter is now analyzing URLs and shortening them in the various clients, a similar analysis and indexing could go on for hashtags, either at the point of posting or at the point that a tweet from an external client enters the Twitter API.
  2. The API could be extended so that tweets could be explicitly associated with tags, and these could be used to form queries, as well, like fetching the list of all the tweets I have made tagged ‘#140char’ or ‘#paris’.
  3. Tag streams could be configured in a way similar to Tumblr Explore categories, and these could be either totally automatic — like the ‘All’ tab in Tumblr — or could be curated. Twitter could play the same role in curation as Tumblr is: picking editors and allowing the editors to identify top contributors.

Point 3 — where Twitter builds and manages its own liquid curation system, right in the Twitter application, as another set of Twitter owned-and-operated streams — is an enormous opportunity for Twitter, and one that would drive a stake in the heart of a dozen start-ups that are trying to make a business around topical influence on Twitter, like Klout, or media businesses, like Flipboard, Xydo, and News.me. But Twitter has not showed any reluctance in clobbering the ecosystem of quasi-parasitic companies living lamprey-like on the Twitter underbelly.

And, if coupled with a few other flourishes — like Flipboardish social journal display based on the URLs in the stream — Twitter could also destabilize the tablet media market pretty dramatically, and increase the company’s valuation dramatically.

By exploiting tags and their role in curation, and quietly repositioning the company as a media player, Tumblr is a giant step ahead of Twitter.Ultimately, everything important will appear in the streams first — like the stream of URLs in Twitter, and the stream of reblogs and likes in Tumblr — and those companies that own the streams will be in the best position to provide the complete liquid media user experience to users.

By exploiting tags and their role in curation, and quietly repositioning the company as a media player, Tumblr is a giant step ahead of Twitter.

[Update: 17 June 3:41pm EST — I have been informed by a commenter that hashtags are parsed by Twitter, and any hashtags embedded in the text of a tweet are accessible. But my real point stands: Twitter doesn’t develop that into a rich user experience. And the other ways that hashtags could be used in the API — like given a hashtag, show me all the tweets using it — would have to be implemented by an external program.]

Stars: How Important Is This Piece Of Info?

I have started to adopt a convention — a tiny bit of microsyntax — across all the streams I am producing or curating. I am adding asterisks — stars — as tags, and the number of stars represents how important I think the material is. Always restricted to the range of [0..3] stars.

The purpose is manifold.

In a tweet — I haven’t used this much, yet, in tweets — my hope is that the number of stars will represent how important the information is that is referenced by a URL. I will only use these on tweets with a URL.

On my blog, people wanting to see those posts that I think are most important can click on any ‘***’ tag, or browse to www.stoweboyd.com/tagged/***. I haven’t gone back very far in time with these tags, but I will over time.

In the future I’d like to create a filter mechanism on my blog so visitors could filter out posts below some level of importance. For example, displaying only posts of two or more stars. (I will confer with the nice folks at Tumblr about how that might be concocted.)

In the long run, if more people were to use this Stars convention, it could be an interesting aid to curation, or just to help filter out the non-essential when you are time constrained. There are times when I want to read every item in my streams, but a lot of the time I would like to just see what others think is critical. As Clay Shirky says, it’s not information overload: It’s filter failure. So if we all were to honestly assist in the filtering it would help everyone.

By the way, this is a bottom-up, distributed take on Google’s +1, and other attempts to corral our social gestures, and make money from them.

[Update: 3 June — I have written a short description of why I decided to collapse this system to just one star for important information, and no stars to everyday communications and reportage. ]

Organising the web: The science of science | The Economist →

David Blei built an automated system to tag scientific articles, based on lexical analysis. He discovered that his tool would aggregate articles with similar terms, and based on the historical relationship, he wondered about how ideas spread. Put another way, we wanted to understand which papers spread important ideas, something often missing in the actual citations:

the Blei-Gerrish method may get closer to the real ebb and flow of scientific ideas and thus, in its way, offer a more scientific approach to science.Dr Blei found himself wondering if his method could yield any truly novel insights into the scientific method. And he thinks it can. In tandem with Sean Gerrish, a doctoral student at Princeton, he has now produced a version that not only peruses text for topics, but also tracks how these topics evolve, by looking at how the patterns in each topic bin change from year to year.

The new version is able to trace a topic over time. For example, a 1903 paper with the evocative title “The Brain of Professor Laborde” was correctly assigned to the same topic bin as “Reshaping the Cortical Motor Map by Unmasking Latent Intracortical Connections”, published in 1991. This allows important shifts in terminology to be tracked down to their origins, which offers a way to identify truly ground-breaking work—the sort of stuff that introduces new concepts, or mixes old ones in novel and useful ways that are picked up and replicated in subsequent texts. So a paper’s impact can be determined by looking at how big a shift it creates in the structure of the relevant topic.

In effect, Dr Blei and Mr Gerrish have devised an alternative to the citation indices beloved of scientific publishers. These reflect how often a particular publication or author is cited as a source by others. High scores are treated as a proxy for high impact. But a proxy is all they are.

Dr Blei and Mr Gerrish are not claiming their method is necessarily a better proxy. But it can cast its net more widely, depending on the set of documents fed into it at the beginning. Citation indices, which work only where publications refer to their sources explicitly, form a tiny nebula in the digital universe. News articles, blog posts and e-mails often lack a systematic reference list that could be used to make a citation index. Yet they, too, are part of what makes an idea influential.

Besides, despite academia’s pretensions to objectivity, it is as subject to political considerations as any area of human endeavour. Many authors cite colleagues, bosses and mentors out of courtesy or supplication rather than because such citations are strictly required. More rarely, an author may undercite. Albert Einstein’s original paper on special relativity, for example, had no references at all, even though it drew heavily on previous work. The upshot is that the Blei-Gerrish method may get closer to the real ebb and flow of scientific ideas and thus, in its way, offer a more scientific approach to science.

(Source: underpaidgenius)


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