RockMelt. A social networking browser launches

RockMelt, which went into wide beta yesterday, builds social networking into the browser. Facebook friends are on the left edge. Mouse over or click their image to get their status and timeline. Facebook, Twitter and other feeds are on the right edge. Just one click gets you the latest posts. Click Share at the top to share what’s in your browser window.

RockMelt is built on the same open source foundation as Chrome. It is backed by luminaries like Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape. This is just the first version and it is extremely fast, seems quite stable, and is both intuitive and powerful. Further, this is a real browser too. Right now it’s focused on Facebook and secondarily on Twitter. I’m guessing that will change spectacularly as more functionality is added. However, even now, you can add other feeds to the right edge. A number on the feed icon tells you how many new items there are.

RockMelt is innovative and amazingly solid for a product just out of stealth mode. I’m seriously impressed.

TechCrunch reviewed it last night and had 500 free invites. I was lucky enough to grab one and now have three invites to give away. Let me know in the comments if you want one.

This may be a niche browser, but it fills a big niche indeed, social networking imbedded into the browser. Come to think of it, it may be a new paradigm, not just a niche. It also functions superbly as just a browser. And I can’t wait to see what they do next. RockMelt is a game changer.

Should I quit blogging, asks Problogger

blogging

Problogger responds to the “Is blogging dead” meme that Steve Rubel and others have been posting about.

I get the sense from a lot of bloggers that they feel that they’re being left behind – that all this new stuff that is emerging is beyond them – that it’s hopeless to keep on blogging. My message to you if you’re feeling this way is to keep at it. Even as a full time blogger/web entrepreneur I don’t have time to fully engage with all of the new technologies that are currently emerging. I too feel some of those ‘overwhelming’ feelings.

No one is saying blogging is dead, except maybe metaphorically. But social networking and lifestreams are indeed encroaching fast on the turf blogs thought was theirs alone – quick, immediate response from citizen journalists, unfiltered by mainstream media.

Whenever there is fast-breaking, important news, you can almost always get the latest, most current updates from Twitter, Friendfeed, or Facebook. Why? Because it’s being posted via cell phones from people who are there. There’s no time lag. This is absolutely blindsiding some bloggers and traditional websites.

But it doesn’t need to be ‘overwhelming.’ Any reasonably tech savvy person can figure out the basics of using, say, their blog as a home base, auto re-posting their content to social networking sites, then using those sites to build more readership by genuinely getting involved with them. That’s the key. Don’t just repost. Participate actively in the social networking sites too. It’s fun, you’ll make new friends, find new ideas, and get your thoughts out to a wider audience.

Build a Brand – the mediums are tools. They’ll come and go in time – the key is to build something that lasts beyond them.

True. But what platforms you use are important. The Internet waits for no one. Not even bloggers.

How to spread blog content to social networking sites

Feedburner. Make your RSS feed highly useful

Use Feedburner to create a new, more powerful RSS feed for readers to use
Use Feedburner to create a new, more powerful RSS feed for readers to use

Use Google Feedburner for your main feed and comments feed. RSS is how content moves around the web. You don’t have to understand RSS to use it, as setting it up is easy.

Lots of people, including me, read much of their news in a RSS Reader rather than going to the website itself. Add your original feed to Feedburner. It will create a new feed with lots of added functionality. This new feed is the one that everyone, including those using RSS readers, should use.

Polizeros currently has 380 subscriptions on Feedburner. Not only are these people who might not read on the blog on the site, this also cuts down on server usage, as Feedburner reads the RSS feed every 30 minutes, then pumps out that content to them when they want it. This lets their servers do some of the work too.

Also, you can use Google Adsense to put ads in the Feedburner feed. Currently such revenue, modest, as it is, pays for hosting and domain name registrations for all the sites Sue and I have.

If your blog runs WordPress, get the FD Feedburner plugin. This seamlessly routes all possible RSS feeds to your Google Feedburner feeds. Just add the Feedburner feed URL and it does the rest. Again, you don’t have to understand everything here, just know that it allows many more people to read your content.

Twitterfeed. Autopost your RSS feed to Twitter

Configure Twitterfeed to repost from your Feedburner feed to Twitter
Configure Twitterfeed to repost from your Feedburner feed to Twitter

Now it gets fun. You can tell Twitterfeed to read your Feedburner feed at specified intervals and add any new posts to your Twitter account. It’ll automatically post the first 130 characters or so, with a link back to the original. It also has filtering capabilities, in case you only want to repost certain posts.

Friendfeed. Create a lifestream

Friendfeed can read and post from wherever you want, creating a llifestream
Friendfeed can read and post from wherever you want, creating a llifestream

Friendfeed will read whatever RSS feeds you give it, reposting it onto your Friendfeed account. Because it has a powerful commenting system, you can get lots of feedback (and also comment on other posts too.)

Friendfeed can automatically repost to twitter
Friendfeed can automatically repost to twitter

Not only can Friendfeed reposts status messages from Facebook, it can also repost automatically to Twitter. Thus, if I update my status on Facebook, it automatically ends up on Friendfeed and Twitter too.

The goal here is to engage people and get conversations going, not to spam them, so use such reposting capabilities carefully and intelligently.

So, that’s what I’m doing now. What are you doing with social networking?

Blogs are out of beta, but bloggers should always be in beta

From Baekdal.com
From Baekdal.com

Steve Rubel on how social networking sites and lifestreams are the next indicated thing.

The image above is one of the most important graphics I have ever seen. In fact I stare at it every day on my desktop to remind me that a) there will always be shifts in media and b) one format never supersedes another.

The blog is at a critical stage in its evolution. Blogs are out of beta. Blogs are the new normal. Everything is a blog. So what’s next? Well, the format will indeed evolve into something new. I believe it will be the stream. Yet lots of folks this week are defending the blog like it’s sacrosanct and untouchable.

The protests after the Iran elections shows how powerful social networking sites can be. The real news came from Twitter and Facebook, with every other media source lagging far behind. Not only is it easy to post to social networking sites from cell phones, they can reach far more people way faster than can blogs and websites.

Blogs are out of beta but bloggers, as pioneers, should always in beta seeking to grow and advance our beloved format, rather than be complacent. I am surprised that more of us aren’t asking what’s next for the almighty blog – and I am interested in your thoughts on this subject.

Just like traditional news media and websites got blindsided by blogs (as witness them howling now about how Obama asked HuffPo a question at a press conference, imagine, a blog invaded their turf. Oh the indignity), blogs in turn may not see the next wave, that of social networking, coming.

The image is from Baekdal.com, who has a must-read post about it. Highlights include:

2009 – Everything is Social

The new internet is completely dominating our world. The newspapers are dead in the water, and people are watching less TV than ever. The new king of information is everyone, using social networking tools to connect and communicate.

Even the traditional website is dying from the relentless force of the constant stream of rich information from the social networks.

The Future

The first and most dramatic change is the concept of Social News. Social news is quickly taking over our need for staying up-to-date with what goes on in the world. News is no longer being reported by journalists, now it comes from everyone. And it is being reported directly from the source to you – bypassing the traditional media channels.

But social news is much more than that. It is increasingly about getting news directly from the people who makes it.

2020 – Traditional is dead

In the next 5-10 years, the world of information will change quite a bit. All the traditional forms of information are essentially dead. The traditional printed newspapers no longer exists, television in the form of preset channels is replaced by single shows that you can watch whenever you like. Radio shows is replaced podcasts and vodcasts.

That this process will destroy existing industries and businesses while creating new ones is a given. Those who are nimble and able to morph and change will thrive. Those who insist on making a stand where they are may find the ground eroding out from under them.

The websites have a much lesser role, as their primary function will be to serve as a hub for all the activities that you do elsewhere. It is the place where people get the raw material for use in other places. And the websites and social networks will merge into one. Your website and blog is your social profile.

This isn’t just for the privileged few in wealthier parts of the world either. There is currently an explosion of smart cell phone usage all over the planet. They may not have a PC at home. But with smart cell phones, they can blog, post to social networking sites, create lifestreams – and report news as it happens from where they are.