‘Nothing is “Built On Twitter”‘

Dustin Curtis nails it when he writes about Twitter:

And that leads to me to the final thing I want to talk about, which is also the most important: Twitter has fucked up its platform. Twitter has turned into a place where famous people and news organizations broadcast text. That’s it. Nothing great is Built On Twitter, even though it should be the most powerful realtime communications platform on Earth. There are simply no developer integration features for building stuff on top of Twitter as a platform, and that is absurd and disappointing. The fact that automatic tweets from apps are considered rude is one of the biggest failings of Twitter’s product team–Twitter should be the place for apps to broadcast realtime information about someone. And yet the culture around the Twitter community has effectively banned such behavior because the product doesn’t have features to filter/organize such notifications.

Twitter started off as a content creator’s dream. They had a freely available API and a massive, growing data-set open to anyone with some basic programming skills. That avenue was closed a few years after launch when they bit the hand that fed them and blocked basic API access to successful apps.

While I agree with Mr. Curtis’ overall opinion of the Twitter platform, I’m not convinced Twitter is “the right person for the job.” The service that Twitter provides should be given to the people who contribute to it, like Wikipedia does. The content and the platform should be completely open. Giving this responsibility to one for-profit company is simply a ticking time bomb.

It’s for this reason that I recommend as many interested people as possible look into running or contributing to the GNU Social platform. It’s a federated Twitter-alike service that’s completely open-source. People on one network can follow and reply to people who are on another. Even better is that there’s no 140-character limit!

The Power of Twitter (or, how it never hurts to ask)

Transport Tycoon

Open TTD Title ScreenTransport Tycoon Deluxe had a profound impact on my life when I was in high school. A friend an I found it in a nested-away folder on one of those pirate-rich, home-burned CDs that contained ripped games and were passed around between classes. At the start, we had no idea what a great game Transport Tycoon was but the graphics were really impressive and the game ran swell on our hardware (a 486SX at 33MHz and a Cyrix MediaGX at 180MHz). Not only were the graphics great, but the music was really catchy, as well. All of us (friends who later became enamoured themselves with the game) found ourselves humming it for months and years after.

I play the music now and again, even years later. It’s classic 16-bit MIDI is music to my ears. Still, I have always wondered what a live band adaptation would sound like.

Enter Twitter

Conversation on Twitter with John BroomhallSome people wonder what the point of Twitter is. I, myself, was one of those people until I realized about two months after joining that A) your experience is directly related to the quality of the people you follow, and B) it gives you direct access to famous people you would have no other way of contacting.

Hey wait! Why not contact John Broomhall about him doing a live band version of the Transport Tycoon!

Gamasutra

Game developers and artists in the game development industry frequently guest post on Gamasutra, a blog dedicated to the art of game development. Guess what? John Broomhall wrote a guest post centred about his 20+ year experience in the game soundtrack field and included a little nugget which interested yours truly: a live band adaptation of Transport Tycoon’s soundtrack!

I’d just like to thank Mr. Broomhall for doing this and giving me such enjoyable music to listen to all these years. Also to Twitter for making it possible for us to directly speak to people who have made direct impacts on our lives!

Some web traffic data for my part-time video game blog

When I first started making websites, I went looking for web traffic data for other people’s websites in an attempt to set a sort of realistic goal post. I wanted to know: what sort of traffic is realistic for a site that’s just starting out? How will I know if the site is successful or popular? Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information available. So, for those that come after me, here’s what my video game site, GameBlaster64, has looked like traffic-wise since day one (January 20, 2011).

Traffic for gameblaster64
Click/tap for larger image

My site is not entirely popular, but it’s not barren, either. I post sporadically, maybe once every week on average. The content quality is good, though: all of the posts are original articles, not found anywhere else on the web. I’m always on-topic and share my posts on Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Stumbleupon. I don’t pay for traffic. All of this is organic.

Looking at the data, I find it interesting that although I have hundreds of articles, the ones about popular or trendy topics are right at the top of the popularity chart. Though it’s only one data point, my site’s traffic data seems to support the notion that following trends returns greater interest than long-tail but focused content, i.e., writing things about Minecraft is more popular than covering older/indie/non-mainstream titles or news, even if the latter is much more numerous in post count.

I do run ads from Google AdSense and make some money from Amazon affiliate links, but it’s not enough to quit my day job. Not even close. Still, it pays for our Minecraft server, which is professionally hosted in NYC by the amazing people at Nuclear Fallout. And, I get enjoyment from the creative outlet, covering the industry I love.

Spending Less Time At Facebook These Days

Facebook has recently changed the way it handles my news feed. Because of this, it’s likely that I’ll be reading it less and keeping it around just to post things and check up on to make sure I haven’t missed a message.

Here’s why: I don’t equate friendship with following.

When I’m your friend, I want to keep in touch, maybe hang out, and share something with you directly. I don’t want to see your thought stream.

Don’t take it personally because it isn’t personal. When I read stuff online, it’s usually news. I want to learn something new about the fields in which I am excited, not in which you are excited. If it’s not news, it’s an editorial on said fields. If it’s not an editorial, it’s a tweet from someone who might be generating the previous two examples.

I had spent the last 6-12 months whittling down my Facebook news feed to weed out most people’s/most page’s posts from showing up.  The little down arrow icon with the “Hide all from xyz” was my best friend.

Then, a week or so ago, all those settings got wiped in favour of a new “acquaintences” system where you specifically select which group you want to read from.

Here’s why it doesn’t work: I have no clue what people are going to say before they say it, so I have no idea who I would like to follow. But, once they’ve said it, I sure as hell know who I would like to unsubscribe from.

This doesn’t mean I don’t want to be their friend, it just means I don’t want to mix their stuff in with mine is all.

Enhanced by Zemanta

And We’re Off! Guelph Game Jam 2 Starts Now!

The second Guelph Game Jam has just started at the ThreeFortyNine co-workspace. The goal? To make a game in less than a day. We have about 8 hours to design, build, and test our games. Then the last bit of time is spent playing everyone else’s game.

I did this a few months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The theme this time is ‘Monsters.’ The game designer can take that in any way, whether it be about monsters, being a monster, defeating monsters, etc.

As was the case last time, I’ll be live-blogging my progress here and on my BitBuilder game developer Twitter account.

How to Network in a Web 2.0 World – Part 2.0

Note: This is a continuation of part 1 of How to Network in a Web 2.0 World. Please read the first blog post on the subject before proceeding with this one.

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve got profiles at the 3 most popular social networking websites, it’s time to put them to good use. To do that, we’re going to leverage the equalizing power of the Internet to gain access to high-profile people in the markets you’re selling your services to or working in. You will be amazed how accessible CEOs and other top-tier people are on services like Twitter and Facebook.

Your Brand

Branding is an entire industry by itself and far out of the scope of this blog post. However, we can tackle a small part of it to get you on your way. The easiest way to help brand yourself is to have a consistent image that you’re delivering to people who see you. This way, they will remember you and associate you with that image. Think Coca-cola and you likely think of a red sign with white text. Or Nintendo brings up imagery of Mario.

Be sure that your profile picture is the same across all of the social networking sites you’re a part of. This way, when people see a thumbnail of your profile pic, they will remember who you are and associate you with it.

Another trick is to always use the same nickname or handle on every service. For example, my handle is Rocky1138. If you search for Rocky1138 on Google or Yahoo or Bing you will see a lot of the websites I write on or tweets from Twitter.

Facebook Vanity URLs

When adjusting your profile on Facebook you are presented with the option of creating a “vanity URL,” which is a word you associate in the Facebook website address with your Facebook profile. This is an easy way to make your Facebook profile memorable to people. For example, my Facebook profile is located at https://www.facebook.com/webprogrammer. Whenever anyone goes to that link, it will take them to my Facebook profile. Pick a good Vanity URL such as your name or something easy to remember that you wouldn’t mind putting on your business cards.

Twitter

Twitter will connect you with very important people around the world and give you access to those who can hire you or contract your services in the future. An easy way to get hold of the best people in your industry is to use a website like WeFollow.

WeFollow will show you the top Twitter accounts in the world for a search term you type in. If you type in “php” you will get 1,602 people you can follow, including the #1 twitterer which is coincidentally the person that invented PHP. After using Twitter for a few weeks to build up a tweet history, spend a day and a half to follow the entire list of people in your search. If even half of them follow you in return, that’s still potentially hundreds of like-minded people that will be listening and watching your tweets.

I have gotten plenty of work from people who’ve been following me on Twitter and got in touch with me because of something I tweeted about. This is a great way to get work.

I hope this has helped moves you forward in networking in a web 2.0 world. There’s still plenty more we can do, so keep an eye out for part 3 on the horizon.

Project Natal + OpenSim = Heaven? Getting there!

Microsoft unveiled their new Xbox 360 controller, or, lack-of-controller today at E3. Yes, I’m referring to Project Natal.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, you obviously don’t have a Twitter account. All of the videos I’ve seen thus far are pre-recorded, but if this thing works as good as they make it look, we are all in for a treat.
I have a few questions, which I’m sure you all do as well. Mine are

  1. Will the sensor be a USB device?
  2. If so, has anyone hacked their own drivers yet? :)
  3. How long until someone uses it in a virtual world, like OpenSim?

Combine this with a projection-cube-room like this one, a treadmill floor so you can actually walk, and you’ve got yourself a holodeck, son.

How to Network in a Web 2.0 World – Part 1

TwitterFox - Firefox Twitter Plugin

TwitterFox – Firefox Twitter Plugin

As a web developer my job is more than just programming code. I’m required to cut up graphics, keep up-to-date with web standards (CSS, XHTML, et al.), and build a reputation for myself in a way that many other workers in many other jobs simply aren’t required to do.

There has always been a need for every worker in every industry to maintain a good level of professionalism and efficiency in order to gain a good referral when looking for future employment, but with web developers this is amplified.

Why?

Everything about the web is social; we chat online, send E-Mails, play online games, receive world news instantly, and have public profiles on any number of social networking services – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Orkut, and more.  There is competiton everywhere. Everyone is fighting each other for attention and recognition.

Who’s out there?

Computerworld suggests that 1 in 5 employers looks at prospective employees on social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, and others) to determine if that person would be a good fit for their company. With numbers like that, you cannot afford to be reckless with regards to your online persona.

What can you do?

This first part of this article is designed to get you up to speed on a few techniques and sites that will help you build an online persona that future employers, when searching for you, will find.

I got my first programming gig because my employer found me on Google. The same could happen to you. Let’s make sure what they see shows you in the most positive light possible.

The Basics

The most important things you can do when creating an online profile is ensuring that your data is always accurate, timely, and professional. Always imagine that your boss can see everything you put online — because he/she can! Never let data grow stale. Always be adding, updating, and building.

To start, there are three websites you will need to create an account on. Those three are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We’ll go through each briefly, but I always recommend that some time is spent with each one to get used to the features it offers.

Facebook

Website: https://www.facebook.com/

Who hasn’t heard of Facebook? Unless you’ve been living under a technological rock for the past few years, you’ve at least heard of this service. Facebook is a website where over 90 million people have created profiles that allow them to share photos and contact details, network, and meet friends.  Put simply: If you’re not on Facebook, who are you?

LinkedIn

Website: https://www.linkedin.com/

LinkedIn is Facebook’s older, more experienced cousin. This site’s specific purpose is to build an online resume and accomplishments list that other people in your industry can use to search and find you. While Facebook is geared to a more personal audience, LinkedIn is strictly for professionals. Over 35 million people have built online profiles already and there are more joining each day. Chances are someone you know or work with is on this site.

As you build your profile, consider it an online resume.  This will help to give you an idea of what it should look like to someone reading it.

A neat feature that LinkedIn has is the ability to search your E-Mail contacts for people on LinkedIn that you might know. This saves you the hassle of trying to build an initial network. From there, you can be introduced to people that they know and so on, building your network even larger.

Twitter

Website: https://www.twitter.com/

Ah, Twitter. You’ll either love it or hate it. I personally dislike this service, but I find myself using it every day. It is a uniquely simple but completely addicting service. The idea is called ‘micro-blogging‘, meaning that you send brief (140 letters or less) updates of what you’re doing or thinking and people can respond.  The photo at the top-right of this article shows a typical Twitter experience.

As you continue to update the world to your thoughts and work, people will begin to ‘follow’ you and they will get your tweets (the term for each update you put out). In turn, you can ‘follow’ their tweets.

The biggest draw of Twitter is that you can find and communicate with very high-profile people you may never normally have access to. Some top CEOs and other big-wigs are on here. If you communicate often enough and start to gather a following, you can find yourself in a conversation with people you never thought possible!

This ends part one of “How to Network in a Web 2.0 World.” Continue onto Part 2.0.

Totally Loving Blippr

I found out about a really awesome site this week. It’s called Blippr. It’s basically Twitter but for game, music, movie, and book reviews. You have 160 characters to let the world what you think. It’s really addictive.

After creating a profile, you can link to your Facebook and Twitter accounts so any blips you write will be displayed there. This is great to help build some incoming links and keeps your Twitter fresh, which then pushes your profile page up in the search rankings. For a while there my Blippr profile was showing at the top of search results while searching “Rocky1138” on Google.

If you end up joining, add me as a friend and we’ll see how we stack up against each other in game, music, book, and movie reviews.