Twitter and the Web According to Andrew Keen, the Antichrist of Silicon Valley

Andrew Keen“Grand utopian movement”, said one author about web 2.0… They call him the Antichrist of Silicon Valley. In Amsterdam, at The Next Web conference, we met probably the most prominent critic of Web 2.0, Mr. Andrew Keen.

Mr. Keen is well known for his particular view of Web 2.0 as a “grand utopian movement”, describing new media and technology in terms of it’s significance to modern culture and society. Basing his arguments on a view based on comparative history and sociology, Keen has stirred up both interest and controversy with his book, “The Cult of the Amateur”. So what does the man who writes about the age of digital narcissism have to to say about Twitter?

Mr. Keen, what are you doing in Amsterdam?

Andrew Keen

Andrew Keen

I was asked to give a little more optimistic and positive view of the internet. I didn’t necessarily agree to that, but on the other hand – I’m not opposed to technology. I try to give a more balanced view of where I see the internet today.

Why have you been dubbed the Antichrist of Silicon Valley?

It’s a bit of a joke. It’s just fun, not like the reformation where millions of people lost their lives. A lot of people were offended by my book and some of my arguments. I basically rejected the business premise of web 2.0, the idea that all this free content could generate viable businesses. I make the argument that on the one hand all this free content is just pretty bad. Also, the culture of free content is unhealthy and destructive. People like Larry Lessig and the Creative Commons group are, and they won’t explicitly say this, undermining the media industry by saying that artists and creators have some kind of moral obligation to give their work away for free. It’s also not a very good idea in business terms since most advertisers don’t want to associate their brand with content that can’t be controlled, which is often irrelevant, rude and semi-pornographic. I was stating the obvious that everybody knew, the little kid in the crowd who pointed out that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes.

The internet for me is morally neutral. Neither good nor bad – it simply reflects us. What’s interesting about web 2.0 is that it’s a mirror. That’s why it raises so many emotions. The problem, in my view, is that a late capitalist, late industrial society contributed to a culture of narcissism. It’s made us all increasingly isolated, lonely and eager for audiences. The web 2.0 period is interesting because finally we as individuals found a release for that. We can all be famous for 15 seconds. I think that the web 2.0 phenomenon can only be explained through deeper, sociological, cultural and economic events which are reshaping the way we live.

How would you compare Twitter to YouTube?

TwitterIt’s something more and something less. It’s something less because it’s just fun. What I like about Twitter is that it doesn’t represent an attempt to replace mainstream media. It’s a nice way to meet people. It does away with a lot of problems of web 2.0 because it dismisses anonymity. I think it creates much more good will.

Twitter represents the beginning of the real time economy and real time culture. You can’t look back now. You won’t have companies or web services that aren’t real time. Now it seems unusual, but eventually it will be normal.

I was always opposed and hostile to the idea of democratization of the web and thought it was empty. The internet wasn’t democratized and it wasn’t planned. The reverse is actually true. Twitter represents digital feudalism. Either you’re a follower or you’re followed. With Twitter you have the reappearance of talent. You have your Stephen Frys and other talented thought leaders who sometimes have hundreds of thousands of followers. Most people don’t. Twitter is radically unequal. Is that good or bad? It’s a reality. At least it’s a little more honest than the web 2.0 period which lacks clarity and simplicity.

Coming to Eastern Europe. Lenin and Tito understood, that to revolutionize the village, you have to speak the language of the village. The problem with urban, East European communists from the war period was that they spoke the language of the city. They generally failed. What was distinctive about Tito was that he spoke the language of the people and built that conversation into a national movement. Twitter is the Lenin or the Tito of the web 2.0 revolution. Technology is catching up with the way we interact. Twitter is intimately familiar, yet revolutionary.

What role do politics play in microblogging?

The Cult of the AmateurThe dangers of Twitter in politics are pretty obvious. Since it’s a digital feudal system where you’re either a follower or follower, there’s a dramatic imbalance of power. When that translates into politics, I think it lends itself to charismatic leadership, which is not a democratic system. Chris Sacca is a genuine democrat and I have a lot of respect for him, but I don’t agree with his view that Twitter is democratic. I think the opposite is true. Imagine Twitter in the 1930s, imagine what Hitler, Mussolini, or some of the angry young men of Eastern Europe could have used it for. A young charismatic could command a large number of followers, attention and loyalty almost overnight. That’s scary.

I think we’re on the verge of digital fascism. You can’t blame the technology. It has certainly reshaped the nature of politics. Obama, for example, has used this technology in a very honest and credible way. I’m not convinced everyone will use it in the same way in the future.

Where is Twitter, the web in general even, going?

The digital revolution is changing everything. The internet has become the central social and cultural battleground over many issues. It’s not because of technology, it’s in spite of it. It’s very important to understand that the internet right now has to be understood in broader cultural and social terms. It can’t just be seen the technology.

What do you think? Don’t forget to follow Mr. Keen at @ajkeen on Twitter! Also check out his book… For future interviews, follow Shout’Em!

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The 6th European Investor Summit – with Shout'Em

6th Europea Investor Summit

6th European Investor Summit

We’ve been invited to the 6th Annual European Investor Summit on May 13th in beautiful Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. As a member of Microsoft’s Bizspark program, we’re going to showcase Shout’Em at this very interesting event. Except for presentations of startups like ours, students participating in the Imagine cup will also have the opportunity to present their projects.

What can we expect? Well, except for the lads and ladies from Microsoft Europe, there are going to be a fair amount of investors, such as Vodafone Ventures, Iris Capital Management, Peer Ventures and Balderton Capital. In any case, wish us luck and see you in Prague!

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Mini Seedcamp Ljubljana Feat. Shout’Em

Seedcamp

Shout’Em has been picked as one of the 20 best web startups in the region, to be featured and presented at Mini Seedcamp Ljubljana. What’s Seedcamp, I hear you ask? Seedcamp is a week long event featuring 20 young entrepreneurs who showcase their startup ideas. At the end of the week, five of the teams get an investment of 50.000 pounds as well as ongoing mentorship and support.

What is Mini Seedcamp Ljubljana 2009.?

Mini Seedcamp Ljubljana is a pre-Seedcamp event that is going to bring 20 of the best regional startups from the central and east European region (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia,…). We and the other 19 teams (including LongURL, Irondomain, Favorfly, Maritime Connector and MojMag also from Croatia) will get 5 minutes each to present their startups. Presentations by featured Seedcamp mentors as well panel discussions are going to fill up the day nicely.

Barcamp Ljubljana is going to take place the next day, May 15th. We invite all of our friends in the region to join the Shout’Em team at the unconference! You know we love a good Barcamp… See you in Ljubljana and thanks to Seedcamp for the opportunity!

Ping.fm – Update Shout’Em and Other Social Networks Instantly

Ping.fm

We’ve already discovered the “joy” of updating multiple social networks. While Shout’Em lets you sync your Facebook and Twitter statuses instantly, HelloTXT lets you update Shout’Em and other services. Now it’s time to cover the most powerful updating service out there – Ping.fm.

Our buddy Sean, CEO of Ping.fm, is doing an amazing job of covering a huge number of social networks. As you could expect, Shout’Em is also supported. Ping.fm is so awesome it not only supports updating Facebook profiles, but Facebook pages as well:

  • Supports over 50 social networks, including Shout’Em;
  • Update using the web interface, e-mail, multiple instant messaging protocols (AIM, Skype, MSN,…), Tweetie, Twhirl, Nambu,…

How to Setup Ping.fm

Add Your Networks

Add Your Networks

Setting up Ping.fm takes just a few minutes. First of all, click on add more networks in your dashboard.

Select Shout'Em

Select Shout'Em

Locate Shout’Em in the list of supported networks and click on add network.

Enter Your Settings

Enter Your Settings

Enter the server (either a Shout’Em subdomain or custom domain if you have one activated, you have to include the http://), username and password. Ping.fm supports Shout’Em location-based features as well.

Now you can relax and update all your social networks with even less hastle.

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How to Sync Shout’Em with Your Twitter and Facebook

Facebook and Twitter

With all the social networks out there, it’s hard to stay in sync with all of them. Updating your statuses starts to become a hastle. Well, it doesn’t have to be. Setting up your Shout’Em profile to sync with Twitter and Facebook is very simple. Best of all, you can do it today! This way, all your statuses will instantly become your Twitter and Facebook statuses.

Start Your Sync

Click to Connect

Click to Connect

To start, either click the Connect to link on your profile page, beneath your profile photo, or go directly to the Sharing page linked at the bottom of your network. Either way, you’ll end up with several options, two of them being Facebook and Twitter.

How to Setup Facebook

Setup Facebook in a Few Clicks

Setup Facebook in a Few Clicks

Confirm you want to sync to Facebook by putting a tick beside the Update your Facebook statuses option. Click on the Settings link and allow the Shout’Em Facebook application. You’re done.

How to Setup Twitter

Setup Twitter in a Few Clicks

Setup Twitter in a Few Clicks

Confirm you want to sync to Twitter by putting a tick beside the Auto-update Twitter settings. Click on the Settings link and enter your Twitter username and password. Save it.

Wasn’t that simple? You know it! It’s going to save you a lot of time. So far we’ve covered Ning, HelloTXT, Facebook and Twitter. Anything else you want to add Shout’Em to? Give us a shout in the comments!

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The 4 Best Microblogging Blogs on the Web

“Microblogging killed the blog star”, said one microblogger. Au contraire! Blogs have only benefited from the advent of microblogging. Some have even taken upon themselves to inform us about how to microblogging, where to do it and how. Here’s a round up of the Shout’Em team’s favourite microblogging blogs, in no particular order:

140Char

140Char

140Char

140Char is a all around news and information blog led by Dan Thornton and his two mates. While not changing his son’s nappies (as he states on the blog), he’s hard at work building up 140Char. This blog includes not only news, but also tools, a job search as well as several case studies on the use of microblogging. One popular series of articles is “Tweet of the Week” which includes quotes of the best tweet found on Twitter, for example this one by @sizemore:

CNN cameraman just asked us to shut up as he needs just one shot of us working. When you see this on CNN we’re all typing wanker.

Microblink

Microblink

Microblink

Microblink focuses on the latest news surrounding the world of microblogging. While Rob and Mike edit it, their lead developer Mark is also a contributor. While they might cover a lot of news, the quality commentary is not hard to miss. Actually, the best Microblink articles start with a title ending with a question mark:
How much Would You Pay for Twitter?
Is There a Format for Retweeting?
Can Microblogs Be Used for Microfunding?

Pistachio

Pistachio

Pistachio

Pistachio is led by Laura @Pistachio Fitton who tries to help us get an in depth idea of how to use Twitter and other similar technologies to make business practices both more productive and intelligent. She also wrote a white paper on “Enterprise Microsharing” (a.k.a. the internal use of Twitter). At the moment she’s writing Twitter for Dummies which we’ll see in July of this year. Her work has also been featured in Seth Godin’s Tribes and Guy Kawasaki says she’s the one who convinced him to start using Twitter.

TwitTip

TwitTip

TwitTip

TwiTip is a blog founded by Darren Rowse a.k.a. mr. ProBlogger. After doing everything that could be done in blogging and having great successes along the way, Darren just couldn’t shy away from microblogging. It helped him grow his personal brand and still to this day drives significant traffic to his online businesses, among them ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. TwiTip is focused on tips and guides on how to use microblogging and less focused on news. You can learn how to build your personal brand using Twitter, discover the anatomy of a successful tweet as well as using Twitter to save money.

What about you? What’s your favorite microblogging blog?

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Shout’Em – One of 101 Great Marketing Ideas by Plan B

Shout

Shout'Em in Plan B Magazine

The launch campaign for Shout’Em, that landed us on Mashable, The Next Web, Profy, Techcrunch and other blogs, has been featured as one of 101 great marketing ideas by casino online Croatian pop culture magazine Plan B.

They say:

…Shout’Em generated a lot of buzz in a short timeframe among early adoptors – users who are the ones that first try out web services and new technologies. Not only did users create over 1000 networks, but they also provided helpful feedback at the very start of the project… What can we say? If you ever need a viral campaign, these guys know how to make it happen!

Thanks to Plan B for the feature! We promise to do even more good marketing in the future. Other ideas in the article include:

  • Podravka’s Coolinarika cooking community;
  • Citroen’s CSI (Citroen Super Intelligence) parody TV ads;
  • Aviokarte.hr guerilla campaign.

HelloTXT – How to Update Every Social Network at Once

HelloTXT

Having multiple social networks, such as Shout’Em, Twitter, Facebook and others, can be a hassle. For example, lets say you want to update your status across all of them. Well, with the free HelloTXT web service, you can!

HelloTXT Supports over 50 Services

HelloTXT Supports over 50 Services

HelloTXT supports status updating to over 50 services, including Shout’Em. All the large networks such as Facebook and LinkedIN are supported, as well as smaller ones such as Koornk. You can update HelloTXT in almost as many ways:

  • Via the standard or mobile web version;
  • Using the e-mail or SMS gateway;
  • Via GTalk or Jabber;
  • Using Twitterfeed or the Facebook application;
  • Even Firefox Ubiquity.

How to Setup HelloTXT

Setting It Up

Setting It Up

Setting up Shout’Em on HelloTXT is really simple:

  • Go to settings and choose add beside the “Laconica” icon;
  • Insert your username and password;
  • Add your network URL;
  • You’re done!
Just a Minute - and You're Done!

Just a Minute - and You're Done!

6 Absolutely Awesome URL Shortening Services

shorturl

With the advent of microblogging, the need for shorting URLs has grown remarkably. Twitter, Facebook, Shout’Em and other services all rely on the length of your message. Having a short URL lets you share links you like, love or are appealed by with the world. With dozens of URL shortening services out there, here are six of the best ones:

The Simple Solution – Is.gd

Simple as Is.gd

Simple as Is.gd

TinyURL might be the most popular URL shortening service, but it’s interface is just plain ugly. Is.gd on the other hand has a Google-like simplicity AND beauty. Enter the URL and shorten it. That’s it.

The Unique Offer – Snipr

Simple as Snipr

Just Unique

At first look, Snipr is yet another URL shortening service. However, this service has some pretty unique things to offer, and it’s not just the simple and pleasant interface:

  • Multi-snip lets you paste as many URLs as you want and shorten them;
  • You can choose from five prefixes for your URLs, with one just 5 characters short;
  • Choose to automatically copy shortened links to your clipboard;
  • Subscribe to your shortened links via e-mail.

The Open Source and Branding Choice – Shorty

Open Source & Branding

Open Source & Branding

For those who like having things on their own server or want to preserve their own domain mentions, Shorty is a simple yet perfect choice. Instead of having your URLs as http://urlservice/123/, you can have them as http://yourdomainname.com/123/.

This is great for preserving your brand while sharing content from your website. Another added benefit is that your shortened URLs will live as long as you like since they’re hosted on your own server. Even though Shorty does require you to know how to install it, it’s completely free!

The Analytics Tool – Cli.gs

Analyze with Cli.gs

Analyze with Cli.gs

Cli.gs is great for those who need in-depth analytics. Marketers, bloggers and anyone else overly interested in their statistics, will love Cli.gs. Each and every shortened URL has:

  • Total hits chart with a breakdown of bot and human hits;
  • World map overview of locations of hits;
  • Referrer statistics;
  • Search engine bot sightings;
  • Social media mentions on Twitter, Friendfeed, Google blog links and Yahoo links

The money maker – LongURL

Make Money with LongURL

Make Money with LongURL

LongURL just launched a couple of days ago, but looks promising for those who want to try to make money when redirecting. Basically, the service adds a small frame to the top of the linked page with a “Share this button” on one side and your own text ad on the other:

  • Write an ad for each link you share;
  • Save ads to your profile and reuse them as you like

The Overall Best – Bit.ly

Good to Great

Good to Great

Bit.ly is a great choice in that it has a beautiful and simple interface with a lot of features hidden within. Use them if you need them, here are some:

  • Use the bookmarklet to shorten URLs directly from your browser toolbar;
  • Install the Firefox plugin to preview short URLs, supports services other than bit.ly as well;
  • You can save your Twitter account to your Bit.ly profile for instant sharing;
  • Preview of the link destination;
  • List of referring sites, locations and conversations from Twitter and FriendFeed.
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Shout'Em is a The Next Web Startup Rally Finalist

risingsunIf you haven’t read on Techcrunch, Mashable or The Next Web blog, Shout’Em has been selected as one of 19 finalists of The Next Web Rising Sun Startup Rally. We already told you we were going to The Next Web conference and why you should too. We even got you 20% off your pass.

Thank you, The Next Web & Sun

Being a finalist will give us the chance to present the Shout’Em platform to the awesome audience of The Next Web conference in 5 minutes. We don’t need a second more, and we think you’ll love what we’ve prepared. You can read full coverage of the finalist announcement at The Next Web blog, Mashable as well as Techcrunch. Other finalists include Prezi from Hungary, Plista from Germany and others! Congratulations!

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