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Web Weekly: Happy 20th Birthday to the Internet!, Skype (finally) Releases iPad App, More

Posted By abod on August 7th, 2011

Happy Birthday, Internet!

We wouldn’t all be here without it, so let’s celebrate the 20th birthday of the Internet, which was officially on August 6, when Tim Berners-Lee posted a summary of the project on the alt.hypertext newsgr

oup.

Did you know that alternate names for the World Wide Web being considered in its infancy were “The Mine of Information” and “The Information Mesh”? I think we all can agree that “www” works better! (The Next Web)

 

Google+ Grows

Google+ has signed up 13% of U.S. adults so far and could hit 22%, in a year, according to a new poll by Bloomberg and YouGov of 1,003 U.S. adults from July 29 to August 2. Among people who use both Facebook and Google +, 30% say they plan to cut the time they spend on Facebook. However, 31% of Google+ users say they’ve abandoned their Google+ accounts or never posted anything on them. Twitter and LinkedIn are expected to continue to grow.

In other news, inviting your friends to Google+ just got easier. The new links feature will appear as another option in the “invite friends” section in Google+, allowing users to e-mail the invite link, IM it to friends, or pass it around on social networks. Since Google+ is still in field testing, users are limited to 150 invites.

 

Google Doodles

In commemoration of what would have been the late Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday, Google rolled out an interactive Google Doodle, allowing users to view seven of the most memorable clips from the hit show I Love Lucy.

Here’s a lineup from Mashable of some of the most fun, interesting, and famous Google Doodles in the search engine’s 13 years.

 

LinkedIn Earnings Announcement and New App

The business social networking platform LinkedIn posted its stellar second quarter earnings for 2011. Some highlights:

  • Membership grew to 115.8 million, an increase of 61% from the second quarter of 2010
  • Unique visitors of 81.8 million per month, an increase of 83% from the second quarter of 2010
  • Page views of 7.1 billion, an increase of 80% from the second quarter of 2010

LinkedIn also just released an application that allows candidates to apply for jobs through their LinkedIn profile.

 

Skype Comes to iPad

Nothing makes me feel more like I’m starring in The Jetson’s than when I stare at a slick, ultra-thin tablet and communicate with people halfway around the world.

While it takes advantage of the iPad 2′s dual cameras, allows for SMS, works on both WiFi and 3G networks, and hey, it’s free, some users reported a difficult interface. Perhaps the most notable thing about the app is that following months of anticipation, Skype removed it from the App Store shortly after an August 2 release, explaining in a tweet that it “went live prematurely”. It was released for good the following day.

 

 

 

BeKnown: First Impressions

Posted By abod on July 4th, 2011

BeKnown, a social networking hub for career development launched this week. An application for Facebook, BeKnown is really a social network within

a social network. That sounds confusing, but it’s actually quite easy to use.

That is, if you want to bother. There are so many new social networks these days, that I need to be convinced that a new profile and contacts to keep tabs on is really going to be worth my time. Even if your main focus right now is finding a job, you still need to be careful about where you place your time and efforts.

 

What I Liked

  • It’s easy to use. BeKnown installation was a total snap. You just click a button. Literally. Also, because I’m already in Facebook, I don’t have to open another window or tab or remember another username and password combo.
  • It’s fun! There is a cute little bee as the logo, and you can earn badges for your efforts in the network and personal career gains.
  • It’s available in 19 languages (as compared to 9 in LinkedIn or 1 in BranchOut).
  • It’s an easy to way to keep Facebook friends that you know in a professional capacity away from some potentially damaging data. While it’s always recommended to be very careful about what you post on Facebook or online in general, creating lists and adjusting privacy settings in Facebook is a bit of a hassle, and I always have this sneaking suspicion that I didn’t set something write, forgot to add a person to a more limited friends list, or I neglected to adjust the settings on a photo album. BeKnown keeps professional data and contacts where they belong.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Mostly, I don’t feel like recreating all of my efforts on LinkedIn. I have more active business connections on LinkedIn than I do on Facebook. I like to keep my Facebook the place where I go for fun and entertainment.
  • A sigh of relief came when I saw a box at the top “In a hurry? Import from Monster or LinkedIn”. But when I clicked the “LinkedIn” button, I got an error message saying that LinkedIn blocked the import. Ho hum. It turns out that LinkedIn shut off API (application programming interface) access.
  • No personalized requests. On LinkedIn, when you ask to connect to someone new, default message text saying “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” appears, but you can edit it. On BeKnown, you have no choice but to say “Hi – Please join my professional network on BeKnown. Now we can connect professionally on Facebook without mixing business and friends. Thanks.” I don’t want to say that! I feel like that’s saying to a Facebook friend, “I don’t actually want to be friends with you.”
  • You risk annoying people. I already asked several former colleagues and people I’ve done business with to give me a recommendation on LinkedIn. I really don’t want to bug them again for BeKnown. I’m not sure I want to invite many contacts to join the social network either. I recently invited a lot of people to LinkedIn, and very few took me up on it.
  • It’s associated with Monster. I never had anything remotely resembling luck with Monster when performing a job search. I always got totally unrelated jobs sent to me and a lot of spam n’ scam.
  • “Skills” interface. One of the things you’re directed to do in order to get a complete profile is to fill out your skill set. You can only automatically import from Monster, which I haven’t visited in years, for reasons stated above. So I tried to manually fill out my skills. You’re supposed to list how long you’ve had a given skill and where you used it. Except your choices are displayed in a drop-down menu. Bad. The first thing that I submitted was “Writing”. Well, I happen to have used my writing skills in more than one job, but I couldn’t indicate that, so I left that part blank.
  • One of the things that I like about having professional contacts be my friends on Facebook is that I have things in common with them as a result of our shared professional interests. I might post an article on Facebook that they will find interesting and vice versa. I don’t see a way of sharing new articles or links as I would in the normal Facebook interface (or LinkedIn).


Other Thoughts

From a job recruiter’s perspective, there are many more benefits to BeKnown. What immediately stands out is the ability to mine Facebook’s approximately 700 million users, thereby extending recruitment reach into more passive job seekers.

According to an article in Personnel Today, BeKnown is expected to release an additional feature next month that will provide financial compensation for professional referrals, though it didn’t say if payment was contingent on the referral turning into a job placement. It’d better be, otherwise this feature will quickly be abused.

BeKnown is coming on the heels of BranchOut, a Facebook application released in July 2010 that allows you to connect with others and network for jobs on Facebook without having professional contacts see your personal data. It has already grown to 800,000 users.

Summary

BeKnown is a user-friendly interface for job seekers and recruiters to make professional connections through Facebook. The global reach of Facebook provides it with a tremendous user base that facilitates making these connections and sidesteps the hassle of creating another profile on a separate social network. On the other hand, several features do need to be rebuilt, and some users may shy away from mixing the business of professional networking with the pleasure of goofing around on Facebook.

The ideal market for BeKnown is probably recent college grads. They are entering a hostile employment market, likely haven’t devoted too much time into professional social networking, and they might just have a photo or two in their Facebook profile that a potential employer or boss really shouldn’t see.

If I hadn’t already established a solid base of professional contacts in the regular Facebook interface and especially on LinkedIn, I think that BeKnown would hold greater appeal, and millions of people fit this bill. Despite the initial skepticism that I and others share, it seems that there is potential for mining the captive market in Facebook’s global empire. After all, people spend a lot of time on Facebook. According to comScore, Facebook accounted for 10 percent of U.S. page views last year, while three out of every ten Internet sessions included a visit to the site. Rather than steal people away, savvy startups like BeKnown are trying to get their piece of the pie from within.

Zerply Responds

Posted By abod on June 24th, 2011

A few days ago, I wrote a review of Zerply, a new social network for making business connections. One of the founders quickly picked up o

n it and responded to me, addressing some of the problems I had with the site.

First of all, kudos to Christopher Karltorp of Zerply for being really responsive to what is said about his product, both the good and the bad. Within 24 hours of publishing my post, I received a friendly e-mail.

I promised to post an update with the additional info I found out about using Zerply. Here it goes:
      1. The character limit when importing text is a flaw they are aware of (unclear if they were before I pointed it out) and something they intend to fix immediately.
      2. Re: Finding other users – Christopher said: “I think you might have missed the search feature up in the righthand corner (which proves that we need to make it more visible :) Say for instance that you want to find all the users tagged as designers in Jerusalem. The easiest way to do it is to add a bunch of queries (location, tags, schools, experience etc) – like this: http://cl.ly/7mmY “I tried checking that out. Here is a view of the top of the page:
        top of zeprly page
      3. It is still unclear how to use this, as I can’t add tags into the field.When I look at the righthand corner of my page, all I see is: corner of zerply page
      4. Zerply plans to release a quick and simple communication platform for communicating with other users in the next month or so. (Right now you can only save users to your address book).
      5. Rolling out groups is under consideration.

It seems like some kinks are still getting worked out. I expect that as more and more job networking happens online non-executive types will find their way to Zerply. The biggest trick will be getting the word out to non-techies.

Zerply: A Dressed Down LinkedIn

Posted By abod on June 20th, 2011

I recently came across a new social networking site, Zerply, which tries to target the demographic that wants to do professional networking but doesn’t wear a suit and tie. It sheds the corporate i

mage immediately with its splashy design – especially in the theme options for the user profile. Founded in 2009 by a group of Europeans who tried to improve upon the LinkedIn model (okay, it’s not always the most user friendly), Zerply claims to be “the easiest way to present yourself professionally”.

 

What I Liked:

  • Import Your Data From Other Social Networks

The first thing I think upon encountering yet another social network is “I don’t want tot set up another account – isn’t Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and maybe Quora enough? Well you hardly have to repeat anything, as Zerply integrates links up with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to important your data, including your profile photo, so setting up your profile is a snap.

  • Find Users on Other Social Networks

This is hardly a novelty, but it makes getting set up pretty easy.

  • Easy user interface

‘Nuff said.

  • Very International

For a new network, Zerply has a wide international reach. LinkedIn has tremendous global penetration as well, but that’s not the impression I get when I use it. Because it’s so large, I get constantly fed connections, resources, and groups that are pertinent to my current location. Actually, I find it more useful to connect with people nearby, but having friends around the world can also be fun.

 

What I Didn’t:

  • More Emphasis on What You Like Than What You Do

I understand that this is part of Zerply’s whole concept, but the fact that each user’s condensed profile shows only their current position and the tags they selected leaves the whole field too open. Seeing a bunch of people from throughout Europe and India with tags like “Twitter” and “Marketing” tells me hardly anything.

  • profile snippetHidden Character Limit

Rather than fill in another social media profile, I chose to import my experience from my LinkedIn profile. But when I went to check my Zerply profile, I saw that a bunch of sections got snipped short. Grr.

  • Support Japan Bar

Call me cold-hearted, but I’m not much for badges and symbols in support of a cause that have little substance behind them. I wanted to see what this was about, so I went to my profile settings in order to active the bar. What it did was pull in a strip at the top of my profile that I didn’t see until I started searching for it. It says “I support the efforts to help Japan after the earthquake of March 2011″ and links to the Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal. I do like the idea of supporting charity and helping those suffering from tragedy, but I’m not sure that a networking profile is the best place for it. It looks, well, random.

  • Where Are the Groups?

This is one of the most useful LinkedIn features and leaving it out is, in my opinion, a mistake. How exactly am I supposed to find other people to network with? Just keeping going through people “similar” or “near” me? I

  • Poor Interface For Browsing for Networks

As stated above, the way to find new connections besides importing them from an address book or another social network is to plow through contacts “Similar to You”, “Recently Joined”, or “Near You”, which I don’t find particularly useful due to the layout, as stated above. Additionally, it shows 5 people intially, and then you have to hit “Load More” in order to view one more contact?

Actually is it one more contact? I’m not sure, because sometimes new names get added to the bottom of the queue, and sometimes they get added to the top. Annoying!

 

As you can see, there were more attributes I didn’t like than things that I did. If LinkedIn is too uptight or cumbersome for someone my guess is that they either aren’t very willing to use social media networking for career or business advancement or they have other opportunities for networking with people in their field – forums, industry-specific social networks, Twitter, and elsewhere. Zerply just doesn’t seem to fit the bill, because it’s hard to actually connect (“Hi, I randomly found you, what to be friends?”), and there are plenty of other alternatives for posting an online resume.

In all likelihood, I’ll never use Zerply again, but you want to try it out, find me at http://www.zerply.com/profile/ilenerosenblum.