Archives for March 2005

Gender Differences in Spoken and Written Communication

Prof. Naomi S. Baron will soon publish an article on See You Online: Gender Issues in College Student Use of Instant Messaging. This article is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in designing effective IM systems.

More generally, you can see that even on the allegedly anonymous medium of the Internet, people can still often guess your gender. One study that she references found that reviewers could guess the gender of the author of a paper with 75% accuracy.

Some highlights:

For example, women tend to use more affective markers (e.g., “I know how you feel”), more diminutives (e.g., “little bitty insect”), more hedge words (e.g., perhaps, sort of), more politeness markers (e.g., “I hate to bother you”), and more tag questions (e.g., “We’re leaving at 8:00 pm, aren’t we?”) than do men. Men, on the other hand, are likely to use more referential language (e.g., “The stock market took a nosedive today”), more profanity, and fewer first person pronouns than are women.
Herring (2003) offers a thorough analysis of language and gender issues in one-to-many CMC forums such as listservs and newsgroups (both of which involve asynchronous communication) and Chat, MUDs, and MOOs (all of which involve synchronous communication). In both venues, Herring reports gender asymmetries. On asynchronous discussion lists and newsgroups, “males are more likely to post longer messages, begin and close discussions in mixed-sex groups, assert opinions strongly as ‘facts,’ use crude language (including insults and profanity), and in general manifest an adversarial orientation toward their interlocutors” while females “tend to post relatively short messages, and are more likely to qualify and justify their assertions, apologize, express support of others, and in general, manifest an ‘aligned’ orientation toward their interlocutors” (Herring, p. 207).

For a summary of this paper, see LiveScience reports that the writing style of IM users is surprisingly formal. These different communication styles are one of the reasons why female avatars face gender bias online. (Source: danah boyd)

Integration of online, face-to-face, temporary, permanent, and various other networks

Author William Gibson famously wrote, “The future is here, it is just not evenly
distributed.” “Internet rockstar” Ben Brown reports with a great story from SXSW about how people are creatively and synchronously leveraging online, face-to-face, temporary, permanent, and social networks. The number of technologies that are seamlessly melded together in this incident is truly impressive.

Via Danah Boyd

Online Marketing Does Not Cost a Fortune

Tessa Wegert has some good tips on how to market online without spending a fortune.

The all-time best list of internet marketing resources that I’ve seen is Mitchell Levy’s ” List of 35 Internet Marketing Techniques“.

Seven implications of Yahoo! 360

As rumored for a long time (under the code name Mingle), Yahoo! announced the launch of Yahoo! 360, an integrated suite that includes web email, instant messaging, blogs, photo sharing, and music downloads.

David Jackson of the The Internet Stock Blog points out seven key implications of this launch (republished with permission, with my comments in italics):


1. Confirms competiton at the bundle level.

Yahoo’s launch of 360 confirms that the large Internet companies will compete to provide an integrated and personalized package of web email, instant messaging, blog publishing, personalized news reader and photo sharing. Bill Gates has already stated that this is Microsoft’s goal. DT: “embrace and extend”.

2. Convergence of communication and publishing.

Note that this package is a mixture of communication (email, IM) and publishing (blogs, photos, recommendations) tools. Publishing via blogs and photo albums is a form of personal communication, particularly if permission to access content can be restricted. And it’s two-way if readers can leave comments.

3. Stickiness rules.

Why is the package so attractive to the large Internet companies? Because it is the ultimate sticky application that generates total user loyalty. It’s much harder to move your email, photos, blog and IM address to an alternative provider than it is to move just one of those. And if your applications are networked into theirs (for example you share recommendations with your family and friends), it’s even harder to get everyone to move. (A point made by Charlene Li.) DT: In the short term, yes. However, the real future is services not dependent on a specific platform. For example, my blog alone provides a big part of the social network functionality, and I’m not dependent on any one company to maintain and extend that blog.

4. Competiton at the bundle level relieves competition at the product level.
Google’s release of Gmail and Google Maps shows that it is targetting Yahoo!’s stickiest applications with technologically superior products. What’s Yahoo! to do? Shift competition to the socially-networked bundle level and leverage its enormous installed base of Yahoo! Mail and My Yahoo! users. DT: Of course, if Yahoo! created products of comparable sophistication, they’d be in better shape. Google is emulating Microsoft’s intense focus on recruiting the best and brightest, and it pays.

5. Six Apart apart?
Does this mean that Yahoo! won’t acquire Six Apart? That depends. If Yahoo’s goal is to provide a set of integrated personal tools, it doesn’t need Six Apart. But if it wants deeper functionality and a large installed base of blogs on which to promote its upcoming contextual advertising service, then Six Apart is still highly attractive.

6. Early battle for wireless market share.
Note the emphasis in Yahoo’s press release on mobility and local services: “mobile blogging (moblogging) and other sharing tools for recommending favorite movies, restaurants…”. Competition at the bundle level will spill into the provision of wireless content and services.

7. The potential saviour for AOL.
As competition moves to the ultimately sticky personal communication and publishing bundle, AOL stands to gain most – if it gets its act together. Why? AOL mistakenly bundled dial-up access and closed content, and is therefore losing customers in droves. But AOL can survive if it can transition its customers to the correct bundle of access-agnostic sticky applications. It’s got the pieces: largest market share in instant messaging, millions of email users, blogs, lots of personal customer information. Now it needs to tie them together and unbundle access from content and communication.

CSCW'04 Social Nets Workshop

The CSCW’04 Workshop on Social Networks (November 6-10, 2004 — Chicago, IL, USA ) had some very interesting papers. In particular, you can download here Akella, Prasad, Mark Interrante & Mark Granovetter: Selling the Spoke way. Although this is mainly a sales piece for Spoke Software, it does have interesting background data on the rationale behind their service.

Social networking sites are not just a fad

Many people have said that pure social network sites are a fad, and a dead fad at that. However, Hitwise reports that the market share of U.S. Internet visits to social-networking Web site MySpace

“skyrocketed 1,252 percent the week ending Feb. 19, 2005 versus the same week last year (ending Feb. 21, 2004). MySpace is currently the 12th most visited Web site, and its traffic share is more than 12 times greater than other popular services, including its next closest competitor, Friendster.”


Social network sites can be successful if they offer the ability to have substantive dialogue and the opportunity to monetize that traffic in some way (preferably beyond just advertising). Very few people want to connect just to connect; most people want to do more.

As another model, Amazon derives great benefit from its social network functionality because members get several real benefits:
+ ego recognition of being an expert in a space
+ suggestions for worthwhile books
+ opportunity to connect with likeminded people
+ opportunity to do a favor for authors they respect.

Similarly, MySpace has rich enough functionality that it offers substantive ways to build relationships with people, not just click ‘i’m your friend–yes/no’, like Friendster. Their integration of blogs, etc., is also smoother than Friendster’s newly-introduced blog feature set.

MeshForum, May 1-4, Chicago

MeshForum, a meta-networking event, is happening soon: May 1-4 in Chicago:

MeshForum’s mission is to bring together and connect networks – around the subject of networks. Our conferences will offer an interdisciplinary forum for the cross-fertilization of ideas, expertise, and experiences. On the web we are working on pulling together resources – lists of experts and researches, biobliographies, organizations working in and researching Networks, events and more. We are exploring other options to further foster and support research across boundries into Networks – these may include in the future a peer reviewed journal, invited guest bloggers, podcasts of MeshForum 2005, and other means to share and spread information.

Register here. You can only get the lowest registration price until March 17. This looks like a fascinating event, although unfortunately I doubt that I can attend.

Earn extra money by selling contact data to Jigsaw?

My coauthor Scott Allen recently wrote a widely-linked-to article on 10 Legitimate Businesses You Can Start for under $20. Perhaps we can add an 11th business: sell contact data to Jigsaw.

I just got the press release below from Jigsaw. Of course, there’s a big difference between ‘proving the business model’ and being cash flow profitable. I can’t comment if in fact they are profitable.

Proving the business model…

Jigsaw Data Corp.’s Business Contact Marketplace Starts Generating Income for Members

San Mateo, CA – March 9, 2005 – Three months after the official launch of Jigsaw, people participating in the first open marketplace for buying and selling business contact information are starting to make money. Jigsaw Data Corporation announced that it is making its first round of payments to members who earned and then sold Jigsaw Points. Among those making money in this first payout, the top 10 point-earners each will receive more than $750.

Members earn Jigsaw Points when they enter new contacts into the database, update existing ones or refer new members. They can either use their points to purchase other contacts, or they can sell their points to other members to make $1.00 for every correct contact entered into the Jigsaw system.
Unlike traditional data services, every business contact in Jigsaw contains an accurate email address, title, telephone number and address.

“It’s great to start earning money doing something as easy as entering business contacts into Jigsaw. The concept is so simple: You enter contacts, you make money. Jigsaw’s a completely innovative service that’s going to change some key steps in the way we all do business,” said Jigsaw member Michael Danziger of RAE internet in New Rochelle, New York.

Since launching in early December, Jigsaw members have been adding approximately 3,000 new contacts per day to the database. Personal email addresses and cell phone numbers are not allowed. Currently, there are approximately 400,000 contacts at 38,000 companies in Jigsaw, up from 20,000 contacts at the start of the marketplace’s beta program in August 2004.

“To see people actually make money with the Jigsaw system so soon after launching is incredibly rewarding. The business model works,” said Jim Fowler, co-founder and CEO of Jigsaw. “The marketplace is doing what it’s supposed to do, provide incentive to members to add their excess business cards and keep the data fresh for other members. We expect this to make Jigsaw the go-to place for accurate business contact information.”

About Jigsaw Data Corporation
Jigsaw is an online marketplace where people buy, sell and trade business contact information. The Jigsaw marketplace offers members access to a database of corporate contact information that increases efficiency by shortening the time required to find necessary business contacts. The data contributions and collaborative oversight continuously made by the Jigsaw community ensures the accuracy and growth of the Jigsaw marketplace. Jigsaw Data Corporation is located in San Mateo, California. The company is funded by El Dorado Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners. For more information, please visit the Jigsaw marketplace at


Darcy Provo
Antenna Group Public Relations (for Jigsaw) 415-977-1920

How to Write Electronic Resumes

My colleague Paul Arnold pointed me to the Sovren Group‘s article on “How to Ensure that Recruiting Software Can Read Your Resume“. This is a must-read for anyone seeking a new job.

Blogs, books, and our divided echo chambers

Valdis Krebs observed to the SOCNET mailing list that in both the book world and the blog world, you see the same pattern:

Blogs are divided into left and right wing echo chambers.

Books are divided into left and right wing echo chambers.

Translation: on the Internet, it’s a little too easy to only converse/have relationships with those whom you identify as similar to you.