Climbing on the Twitter Bandwagon…Reluctantly

Here’s something I never thought would happen: I’ve decided to Twitter.

After enthusiastically dissing Twitter as inane, email-lite and a 140-character weakling, I’ve finally decided to join ’em rather than beat ’em.

How come? For one, Twitter is what it is – another communications platform being embraced to complement e-mail, text-messaging, VoIP, etc. Like Facebook, it’s a new and efficient way that people are using to tell other people what’s going on and what they’re thinking – albeit in brief bursts.

But like I use Facebook, Twitter is going to be a professional tool. I’m not going to tell people what I had for breakfast or whether I’m sore from shoveling snow or whether I had too many chocolate chip cookies over the holidays. I don’t think people really care about this stuff, and as much as everyone likes to share everything online these days (privacy be damned!), some part of your life should stay personal and private.

Instead, Twitter will be a tool to talk about what’s happening at where I work, PlanetEye; a way to promote blog posts through Twitterfeed; and a tool to raise issues, share ideas, and seek feedback.

For anyone interested in following my Twitter feed, it’s

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Yeah, ProductWiki!

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The much-anticipated Crunchies nominees have been announced – kind of like an early, unexpected Christmas present – and as a proud Canuck, it’s good to see that a Canadian company made the list.

Waterloo, Ont.-based ProductWiki is one of five companies nominated as “best boot-strapped start-up”, which I guess means it’s deemed to be a company with promising prospects that can’t get or doesn’t want venture capital. ProductWiki’s competition includes FriendFeed, PoliticalBase, Techmeme (which has to be seen as the heavy favorite to take home the big prize) and UpNext.

So why is ProductWiki worthy of such attention? The company is carving out a niche by providing a service where consumers can collaborate on product reviews. People who review products have to provide pros and cons, with the community voting on each one until a consensus materializes. At a time when there’s probably too much information to be useful on many sites/services, ProductWiki may well be onto something by consolidating and synthesizing product information.

The company was created by three students at the University of Waterloo, Omar Ismail, Erik Kalviainen and Amanie Ismail. To date, ProductWiki has been self-funded but you can expected that it’s only a matter of time before the venture capitalists start circling – if they haven’t done so already.

You can read a Q&A I did with Ismail earlier this year.

For more on the Crunchies, check out TechCrunch and Robert Scoble, who has made his selections but, sadly but not surprisingly, picked Techmeme over ProductWiki.

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A New Approach to Friends on Facebook

Mark Cuban‘s on to something interesting with Facebook.

With 5,000 FB friends (and counting), Cuban has decided to divide (and conquer?) his FB network into three tiers: real friends, people with whom he has some sort of connection, and people who are interesting because they have influence or power (aka “other”).

I wouldn’t be surprised if FB launches a service soon where you can divide and tier your “friends” into mini-groups. This would let you create different profiles for different groups – e.g. a friends and family profile, a serious business profile and a cool, hip social profile.

While I have nowhere near the number of FB friends as Cuban, I’m already having a bad case of FB Regret because I’ve got family and friends mixed up with business colleagues and people who I don’t know.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have created two FB profiles: Mark Evans (Friends & Family) and Mark Evans (Business). This would have let me communicate and act in two different ways. For friends and family, I would post photos and provide a few updates on what’s happening my personal life, while the business network would be focused on where I work (PlanetEye), the conference I help organize (mesh), etc.

I like Cuban’s new approach, although I’m not sure how he’s going to effectively implement it with some help from FB.

Mashable’s Mark Hopkins has some thoughts about how to make Facebook more useful. It includes a suggestion to: “limit the chaos, and let me organize my contacts by priority, rather than attempting to set up intricate filters to get rid of the incessant chatter and invitations that greet me each time I log in.”

Update: I’ve decided to test Cuban’s new approach by asking him to be my Facebook friend. Here’s hoping I make one of the three tiers! As well, I would disagree with All Facebook’s assertion that the newly-launched Friend Lists is a “killer app”. It’s a step forward but not a knock out punch and I have no clue why everyone is excited.

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