‘Flow’ – day 3 – the volume is up

The flow is going and it’s time for plumbing improvements and deeper details on this process…

Really Big Pipe

Image courtesy of Komax Systems

Day 3

The question most people have been asking is, “What is the flow like?” Many have described this amount of flow as unmanageable and anti-social. Here’s what I’ve learned first-hand by Day 3…

After wrapping up yesterday’s post and promising to add 500+ friends per day, I destroyed my sleep cycle by obsessively discovering more than 1,000 new people. Since I’m a developer and VP of Engineering at iofy, I focused on developers and technology gurus. I’m also fond of the marketing and sales spaces as they relate to social networks, so spent some time beefing up that area of the flow too.

I do this by finding the most intelligent/witty/interesting people I can and spider through to their friends. Unlike a spammer, I only add a person if their tweets have been interesting and intelligent and I feel they’ll contribute to my education.

I woke this morning to a faster flow. At times today it closed in on my maximum reading speed, especially 9-5. With ~2,200 friends I’m now able to see instant changes in volume based on time of day, news, etc. Last night at 1:00am EDT, it was trickling. Before getting to the office it was still slow. Later, it drastically picked up. I’m getting metrics now and will share them tomorrow.

Our company president, @cart, supplied me with Steve Gillmor’s “Swarmtracking” this morning. Steve has a very similar approach but instead of using a Jabber client he uses the built in GMail web app and has search criteria. His article describes some good methods for tuning and searching, but the methods are distracting and require action (clicks). I also disagree with comparing this to a tracking system. One can use it that way, but it’s so much more powerful as a system for being fed valuable information.

What is the flow?

Reading and consuming the flow is like streaming a Google Search of the latest happenings that relate to you. Imagine a constant stream of somewhat relevant information. You scan as links and tidbits pass by. When something catches your eye, you click a link or respond with insight. Depending on one’s popularity, the flow splashes, much like a rock tossed in a river. One can see multiple splashes as multiple topics hit your flow at the same time.

The “Replies” page on Twitter.com works as an automatic net so I can listen to anyone speaking directly to me. It’s an automatic net and no further filtering is needed.

Unlike an RSS reader, this is real-time. My preference is to have an RSS reader open in 3/4 of my monitor and the flow open in the other 1/4. It’s immersion.

Additional thoughts and how-to (after the jump):

The tools I’ve been using are the twitter.com web site, Quotably.com, Adium as an XMPP/Jabber client, and email.

I use Twitter’s site for locating friends. I’m at the point where I’m almost ready to write my own API wrapper since their AJAX for managing friend additions and updating settings are buggy…….. <geek-speek>My dev team implemented a three-peat system at iofy for AJAX calls to avoid these bugs… AJAX calls for data frequently fail. I think Twitter just bombs out after a single failed try</geek-speek>. Their system would be more reliable with our approach and I wouldn’t have had to double and triple add people (sorry to those that received multiple add notices).

Adium is wonderful for reliably rendering the flow. You need to have a very easy to read font and have the updates spaced logically to differentiate them. Any more updates than present and it will be mandatory to have smooth scrolling. As of yet I haven’t found a smooth scrolling message plugin – please leave a link in the comments if you know of one.

My follower notifications have significantly gone up since describing this transition. Whenever I receive one I click the link to view the Twitter page. If they’re interesting and intelligent, I add them.

The iPhone is usable as a replies mechanism by using Quotably.com. I hope they’ll create an iPhone enhanced version soon.

Some utilities I want and we’re sure to see soon for flow management (hint, start writing these folks…):

  • Powerful Twitter contact management and connection utilities.
  • Twitter specific XMPP client. This should have automatic highlighting/tracking of replies, smooth scrolling, and a rating system for your users.

Lastly, the ease of finding intelligent people seems to be diminishing. I’m far from having a hard time discovering the new, but it takes more effort. This also could be because I’ve been become more selective as I discover the precise types of personalities I want to mix in.

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