Sunday, August 21, 2011

Like Twitter, Google's social network has yet to solve some challenging problems. Among them: the "noisy stream" and how to find interesting content

Tech blogger Robert Scoble, the king of the early-adopter crowd, has posted some thoughts about what he likes and doesn’t like about using Google+, and some of his points hit home with me as well. And the more I thought about the new social network and the things it doesn’t do very well, the more similar it seemed to the issues that have also been dogging Twitter for some time. Like Twitter, the Web giant has to figure out how to solve some pretty challenging problems—including the "noisy stream" issue, the problems of search and discovery, and, of course, how to keep people from going away and never coming back.

As more than one person (including Scoble himself) has noted, he isn’t exactly the average user of social tools. As someone with hundreds of thousands of followers, who jumps on every new Web or social tool that comes along—in some cases dominating those new services to the point where they become almost unusable, as some found with FriendFeed—Scoble is definitely an "edge case." But at the same time, that makes him a little like the canary in a coal mine: He can highlight problems that may only become obvious for others much later.

The "Noisy Stream" Problem

In his post, he mentions a couple of things that I’ve also noticed, as someone who has used Google+ since it launched, including the fact that over time a stream of activity on the network can become noisy to the point where it’s hard to follow at all. That is especially true if one follows—or "circles"—people who produce a lot of content (like Scoble). But it’s also true if you follow someone whose content gets a lot of comments, as is the case with users such as Myspace co-founder Tom Anderson, or even Google (GOOG) co-founder Sergey Brin (and yes, I don’t use Circles as much as I probably should).

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that Washington was "deeply disappointed" by Iran's sentencing of two U.S. hikers for eight years in prison.

In a statement issued by the State Department, Clinton said the United States continued to call and work for the two Americans' "immediate release," saying it was time for them to return home and be united with their families.

"I joined President Obama and the people of the U.S. in expressing our unflagging support for Shane, Joshua, Sarah and their families during this difficult time," she added in the statement.

The two detained U.S. hikers, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, were sentenced to eight years in prison by Iran on Sunday on charges of illegal entry to the country and espionage.

Three U.S. nationals were arrested in Iran on July 31, 2009, for illegally entering Iran's western border and were later charged with espionage. The U.S. government considered the charges unfounded.

The female U.S. hiker Sarah Shourd, once jailed in Iran with the other two Americans, was released by Tehran's prosecutor in September 2010, on a bail of 500,000 U.S. dollars due to her health situation.
JERUSALEM, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The killing of Egyptian policemen and soldiers Thursday apparently by Israeli troops, who were in hot pursuit of militants responsible for attacks earlier in the day within Israel, have strained relations between the two nations.

On Saturday, an Israeli diplomat in Egypt delivered a statement from Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressing his regret over the killing and proposing a joint investigation during a meeting at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

But officials in Egypt were unimpressed by the Israeli gesture.

"The Israeli statement was positive on the surface, but it was not in keeping with the magnitude of the incident and the state of Egyptian anger toward Israeli actions," Egypt's official news agency MENA quoted an Egyptian cabinet statement as saying on Sunday.

Israeli analysts told Xinhua that the cool reaction of Egyptians is an indication to how much the relations between the two countries have declined since former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February.


Mubarak was considered a strong ally by Israel because of similar views on many regional issues. During his 30 years in power, Israel could count on the southern border to be relatively quiet and demand few military resources. However, after Thursday's attacks, that could all change, according to Prof. Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research for International Affairs Center.

"Clearly, it will have to be a military priority to reinforce the border," Rubin said, adding that "It means re-establishment of the southern command as a regularly functioning front."