And Facebook carries on downwards….

In my last post I questioned the value given to Facebook in their IPO.  It became clear at the close of first day trading that things hadn’t gone according to plan; the usual ‘Day One Spike’ associated with high profile technology IPOs just didn’t happen, and I have a feeling that the only reason that Facebook didn’t end the day lower than it did was because the underwriters of the IPO bought up stock to shore up the price.

Of course, that what the under-writers of IPOs are partially there for; they pick up the spare stock and keep the price up, but given that the slump has continued for two days trading now, I am beginning to wonder whether the initial price was artificially inflated for the egos / benefit of those involved.  If so, that is totally unacceptable beccause it means that the ‘civilian’ buyers of the stock – those not in on the game – paid over the value of the company from day one, and it is increasingly possible (and indeed likely) that everyone involved in the launch KNEW that.

There is an interesting article here, by Michael Wolff, that states what quite a few of us have wondered for a while.  Given that, beneath the hype, branding and bells and whistles, Facebook is an advert supported site, how on earth do they expect to make such money as a 100 billion dollar price tag suggests?  And Wolff should know; he wrote the book ‘Burn Rate’, which documented the crash and burn of the first dot-com boom a decade ago.

The problem is that it’s not just Facebook at risk here; a bad IPO in a sector colours the views of those preparing other stock market launches.  Out there are lots of technology start ups, all wondering about financing.  A solid Facebook IPO would have possibly led to a market place that was more willing to put money in to smaller companies that needed much less money and that might even have been producing goods and services of greater value than the ability to play Farmville or post statuses.  And by ‘solid’ I mean exactly that – a sound valuation – if the fall continues then it may well be that a valuation of 40 to 50 billion dollars was MUCH more realistic – that didn’t require urgent under-writer support, that showed healthy secondary trading over the days after launch and that also showed a steady growth as people realised that Facebook had some value that could be exploited – given availability of money.  After all, that’s what an IPO was ORIGINALLY supposed to do – give some money to the founders but mainly give the company money to develop.

As it is, Facebook was clearly over-valued – whether by intention or accident we don’t know – and analysts are finally asking the questions that should have been asked months ago.  Facebook’s last minute purchase of Instagram to try and grab mobile traction looks increasingly like panic.  The company may settle down to around $50 billion dollars – still, IMO, overvalued but the markets could probably live with it.

But back to those other comanies in the wings.  Based on previous technology trading cycles, a bad high profile IPO:

  • Makes the companies queuing up to do an IPO pause in their tracks.
  • Reduces the value of such IPOs and dents market confidence
  • Causes investors in any technology companies to remember that there might be a downside risk and so be more careful about investing – which isn’t always a bad thing, but sucks if you’re a ‘real value’ company.

Historically this tends to lead to a deflation of the tech market place – the last thing we need now.

As is said in the Pythian Scrolls in Battlestar Galactica : “All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.”

The obligatory Facebook IPO post….or…Hey! Zuckerberg! You’re my bitch!

Well, despite the state of the world economy, Facebook finally managed it’s IPO today and ended the day at roughly the same level as it launched at, having had a high point of about $42 and a start point of $38.  Now, when I were a lad we did IPOs differently – take the VA Linux IPO in the 1990s – a first day increase of nearly 700% on the starting price…..

But the world is different today, and the markets are older – although given recent behaviours not any wiser.   The Facebook IPO was never going to be a show-stopper of the type we saw in the first dot-com boom, no matter how people hyped it up.  But, even Linked In, that had it’s IPO more recently, opened at $45 and closed at around $90 on the first day. So what happened to facebook, and why should we care?

To start with, the opening price was, in my opinion, incredibly high for a company that simply peddles user generated content, games access, in game currencies, personal data access and adverts.  And that’s why we should care, because ultimately the value of Facebook will depend upon how advertisers and data crunchers value that content and the 900 million users of Facebook, and whether those users will keep playing the Facebook game.

Why did Facebook go public?  Traditionally, companies go public when they need a market in which to sell shares in the company to investors in order to raise money, typically for expansion, moving new products to market, etc.  In recent years – especially in tech industries – the IPO has been seen as a means by which the people involved with the startup can flog their shares and get rich quick, and I’m afraid that’s what I see happening here.

The big question is – how is Facebook worth $100 billion dollars?  That’s more than Ford and more than Macdonalds.  Last year Facebook returned a profit of a billion dollars on revenue of 3.7 billion dollars, which isn’t bad going.  Ford had revenues of over $100 billion, and profits of over $6 billion in 2010, having reduced it’s debt by $12 billion in the same year.  Not bad either. But Ford only has a market capitalisation of $38 billion.  So, that market capitalisation of Ford of 38 billions is related to a profit of $6 billions.  Now, whilst you can’t compare Internet and non-Internet stocks, if I were to apply the same rules I’d start thinking that Facebook should, on those proportions, be floated at no more than $6 or $7 billion.

Let’s be fairer and take Google as our reference point.  It’s Internet stock, after all.  Current Market Capitalisation of $197 billion, revenue of $40 billion and income of $10 billion.  Applying some ratios again, Google seem to have a profit of about 25% of revenues, and a Market Cap. of around 5* revenue.  Now, Facebook has profits which are not that far off of the same ratio as Google – 1/3.7*100 = 27%, so if we apply the 5* rule we get 5*3.7 billion – let’s be generous and say $20 billions.

So, Joe’s rough and ready calculations say that Facebook should have sold at $20 billions.  Now, I’m not a stockbroker – in fact, I’m not brilliant with money at all, but this seems….logical.  The difference between Google and Facebook, of course,  is the magic words ‘Social Media’.  After all, Social is the future, according to the pundits, so it must be logical that the Facebook valuation reflects something of the massive profits that people expect to make from Social Media in future.  Yes?

Right…let’s look at Linked IN.  Recentish float, social media company, not so many users, blah, blah.  Market capitalisation of $10 billion dollars (no missing zero), Revenue about $670 million, profits about $17 million.  Oooer.  So Social isn’t necessarily the magic word.

So what could that magic ingredient be?  What do analysts think makes Facebook worth so much?  Do me a favour.  If, like me, you’re a Facebook user, walk to the bathroom, look in the mirror.  Say Hi.  You’re looking at 1/900 millionth of Facebook’s secret sauce. Those investors are putting a lot of money in to the hope that we will continue spending money that can, in some way, be associated with our use of Facebook.  Now, I’ve not spent a dime through any Facebook related advert, game or doohickey in the 4 or so years I’ve been on there.  I rate every advert that pops up in my Timeline (except for the ones from Charities and non-profits) as offensive.  How we use facebook from here on in will make or break a lot of fortunes.

If you want something to put a smile on your face today, remember that 1/900 millionth of Mark Zuckerberg’s arse is yours.  Collectively, Zuckerberg is our bitch.


Social Media and the mob

One of my favourite films is ‘The Fisher King’ – one of the most haunting scenes in it is where Radio ‘Shock Jock’ Jack Lucas repeats the words ‘Forgive me’ from a TV script he is hoping to star in, whilst, unbeknown to him, thoughtless comments made by himon his radio show have driven a mentally ill caller to take a gun to an upmarket bar and open fire on people there.  The next scene in the film is of him three years later in a drunken rage after his life has fallen apart in the aftermath of the shooting, with his anger being directed at the actor who DID get teh role.

A few words uttered thoughtlessly in a public arena; in the film it was talk radio, but today it’s just as likely to be Facebook or other Social Media.  Of course, Social Media is a valuable tool with which to organise groups that are angry at social and political issues, for example.  But there are also a number of groups that go beyond what is acceptable:

There have been similar items featured on YouTube and Twitter – and as long as there has been any sort of media – starting with the pub on a Saturday night – there have always been public threats made against people.  The reach of Social Media though makes these sorts of groups and viral campaigns different in some major ways:

  • Sheer numbers – let’s face it, with Facebook you have a potential audience of 400 million people for your campaign.
  • Persistence and visibility – until such a group is removed it’s there all the time and can be found via search engines inside the Social Media site and indirectly form outside the sites.
  • Speed of activity – something can grow rapidly – much more rapidly than any campaign arranged through traditional media.

The obvious immediate result of this sort of mobilisation is the generation of ‘flash mobs’ – often for very good causes – where groups of people assemble, do something. then disappear.  This can frequently be done in the space of a few hours, rather than the days or week traditionally required to get a traditional demo together.

However, a less obvious but more sinister aspect of the use of Social Media is what’s best called ‘validation’.  This is something I’ve touched on in a previous blog post here on Joe’s Jottings – ‘Gazing in to the abyss’ – and it’s possibly more dangerously relevant when we look at the role of Social Media in generating a good, old fashioned, pitch-fork and torch carrying mob.

If you’re one slightly disturbed individual who thinks that a public figure deserves death, then the chances are that until recently you’d find very few people who agreed with you – or even if they agreed with you, would be very unlikely to publicly state it.  Today, the world’s a different place.  Your views can find validation in a number of ways – someone may set up a ‘jokey’ ‘Let’s kill X’ group or web site; other nutters may be more serious about it; or you might see groups on the Internet who just don’t like the person.  And you might see all of these people as somehow validating your point of view – a little like Jack Lucas’s deranged listener.

Let’s just hope that we don’t have too many people saying ‘Forgive me’ as a consequence.

Facebook would like you to share even more….

There’s an episode of ‘The Simpsons’ in which Lisa sets out to determine whether a hamster or Bart is the more intelligent for a school science project.  She does this by applying electric shocks to the ‘subjects’ when they attempt to feed.  the hamster soon stops trying to eat the nuts that are attached to teh electrical wiring, while Bart just keeps on getting electric shocks whenever he tries to eat a slice of booby-trapped cake.

And so it seems with Facebook and privacy issues; no sooner than they navigate their way through one privacy crisis, then they end up with another problem of their own construction –this time involving a new plan to allow ‘trusted third party partners’ access to information about your Facebook account.  At the moment, when you go off to a site – like a game – that connects to Facebook via the ‘Facebook Connect’ application, you’re asked if you wish to give the site permission to access data from your Facebook account that the site needs to work.  This is usually the point at which I say ‘No’ and close the brwoser window, I should add.  The new arrangement will be that certain sites will be given special dispensation to bypass this process and use your Facebook ‘cookie’ on your PC to identify your Facebook account, then go off to Facebook and grab details about friends, etc. without you ever agreeing to it.

Of course, there will be the option available for us to Opt Out of this rather high-handed approach, and by reducing the amount of information that you make available in your profile with a privacy setting of ‘Everyone’ you’ll be able to restrict what data is presented anyway.  But it does appear that this, combined with the recent changes to default privacy settings that made ‘Everyone’ the standard (unless you change it), are pointing to an increasing interest form Facebook in working out ways of :

  1. Using your facebook login and data as a ‘passport’ on to other affiliated sites.
  2. Increasing the ‘stickiness’ of Facebook – not necessarily by keeping you on the Facebook site but by keeping information about your social activities with other Facebook users going back to the Facebook site.
  3. Increasing the ‘reach’ of Facebook accounts to make them more valuable for monetising.

It’s inevitable that Facebook will want to start making some real money from the vast amounts of personal data acquired on their users; if they increase the number of ‘selected partners’ significantly then the amount of data that can be collected about behaviours of Facebook users will be vastly increased – perhaps it’s time to start remembering that you are soon going to be paying for Farmville and other such activities one way or another; it may not be a subscription, but your personal data might start showing up in all sorts of places.

You may have missed this…the day China pulled the plug.

You might have missed this.  I certainly did – but then again for the last week or two I’ve been running around like the proverbial ‘blue arsed fly’ trying to juggle a variety of personal, professional and voluntary responsibilities whilst avoiding cat-induced sleep deprivation.  Anyway…where were you when China appeared to ‘turn off’ access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all over the world?

Because yes, it actually happened – from sometime on Wednesday traffic destined for the servers of these three social media giants was noticed to be going to servers based in the People’s Republic of China.   Technicians overseeing the world’s DNS systems (the ‘phone books’ of the Internet that tell servers and routers around the Internet where to send traffic to) noticed this, and eventually traced it back to a node on the DNS system in Sweden, that may have either been accidentally reconfigured or deliberately reconfigured by hackers.  Whatever the reason, it’s been an eye opener in principle, it means that any reasonably equipped government or terrorist organisation can subvert the whole routing system of the Internet – at least until the holes that allowed this to happen are secured.

The nature of the Internet is such that it has always been possible to do this sort of subversion; it’s just that the Net has never been important enough to be worth worrying about until recently.    The recent kerfuffle between Google, the Government of the PRC and the US Government has put the Internet firmly on the political stage – much more prominently than took place during the Iranian disturbances last summer.  (I’ll be commenting again on Google / PRC in the next few days, but here are my previous comments on that particular story)

It’s almost certain that this was an act either ordered or condoned by the government of the People’s Republic.  Their much vaunted ‘Green Dam’ is clearly capable of acting way beyond the borders of the PRC, especially if the remote control ‘exploits’ are used to take control of PCs running the program.  This would effectively give the PRC a massive cyberwarfare potential, with every PC legally installed in the PRC being capable of taking part in a botnet.

This action very much appears to be a shot across the international community’s bows; the PRC demonstrated their ability to break the Internet.  There are ways around this intrusion, of course, and steps will be taken to deal with it, but it does show that the gloves are off in what is increasingly a battle of wills between governments wishing to restrict what their citizens can read online and those that aren’t interested.  And I’m afraid that I have to include some democratic governments – like Australia – in that list.

The Internet is a political weapon; last Dceember I commented on how the rules of online civil unrest might be changing, as people on the receiving end of protest decided to do something about it – in that item it was Iran and Twitter.  It may well be that that was simply the beginning of ongoing efforts from repressive regimes to control the streets of cyberspace as well as the streets of their own cities.  What is important to realise is that the nature of the Internet – it’s flexibility, expandability, it’s ability to be used for things that the original creators had never even thought of – is at the root of the relative ease with which people can break it.

Unfortunately I expect the ‘powers that be’ to react to this sort of threat by using it as an excuse to tighten up various aspects of security and surveillance on the Net.  Expect legislation such as ACTA and The Digital Economy Bill to be tightened up in a ‘9/11’ style response to this act of online retaliation.

Facebook user hypocrisy or common sense?

I came across this article in my Twitstream today about how young professionals are changing their name and doing other things to camoflage their presence on Facebook and other social networking sites in order to cover their tracks from potential employers or head hunters who might find some aspects of their personalities or character less employable than might be desired.

For a while now there has been a suggestion that people should run separate Facebook accounts for their ‘private’ life and their ‘professional’ life, and make sure that all the partying, socialising, membership of bizarre societies, etc. ends up in the ‘private’ account with the privacy restrictions applied to restrict access to friends only, and ideally with a suitable disguised name.  The suggestions made in the article above have included people setting up accounts under their middle names for one account, for example.

At first glance it seems to be a rather sensible idea; but recently I’ve started wondering whether the establishment of public and private personas in this way is not so much common sense as hypocrisy or even dishonesty.  Let me elaborate…

Many years ago – in the days before Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, what have you, the general rule of thumb was to believe that anything you posted on the Internet would most likely come back to haunt you at some point.  this is more the case today.  My personal way of looking at this is to imagine anything you post on a public forum, blog, Facebook or Twitter being read out to your mother, bank manager, boss and spiritual leader on a busy afternoon in the middle of the local High Street. 🙂 

So at first glance it might make sense to get all the less reputable stuff tucked away somewhere safe….

But hang on a minute – it’s still you!  If your politics, religion or sexuality is such that you fear that they may put potential employers off of recruiting you, then perhaps you need to think about whether you would really want to work for such a company, and whether you would be happy there.  Getting recruited in to an organisation where you have already hidden some core aspects of your personality is not the best start to a working relationship; let’s face it, it will turn up at some point in your career!  And if it’s some aspect of your behaviour, then again – it’s still you.  We all have occasions when we get a little worse for wear on drink, and get photographed in that state, and we all make the occasional ‘off colour’ jokes.  As soon as you start hiding these things away from people who’re wanting to employ you then you’re basically selling a false personality to your recruiters – again, dishonest.  And if you’re dumb enough to post up details of serious indiscretions – drugs use, minor crime, etc. – then to be honest you’re an idiot who deserves what you get.

Of course, it’s not always that easy; some employers are so ‘straight up’ that any deviation from the straight and narrow is regarded as evidence of gross moral turpitude.  And you can’t always determine what photographs your friends take and display – I’ve spoken about this elsewhere on this blog – but then again, there is the old saying about ‘A man is judged by the company he keeps.’

My own advice, for what it’s worth?  Don’t bother having dual Facebook accounts; just stick with the one, set up good privacy settings and be civilised with what you post to it.  Anything else is hypocrisy.

Your email address CAN be harvested from Facebook…a heads up!

Or…yet another reason to watch who you befriend….

Facebook attempts to be what’s known in the online world as a ‘Closed Garden’ – interactions with the rest of the Internet are restricted somewhat to make the user experience better…or to keep you in the loving arms of Facebook, depending on how cynical you are.  One of the tools in this process is the Facebook API – a set of programming tools that Facebook produce to make it possible for programmers to write software that works within the Facebook framework.  Indeed, Facebook get very peeved if you try automating any aspect of the site’s behaviour without using the API.

One thing that the API enforces is the privacy controls; and one thing that you cannot get through the API is an email address.  Which is cool – it prevents less scrupulous people who’ve written games and such from harvesting email addresses from their users to use for other purposes.  It also ensures that all mass communications are done through Facebook.

Of course, if you’re determined enough you could go to every Friend’s profile page and copy the email address from there…or there are scripts that people have written to do the task by simply automating a browser.  The former is tedious, the latter is likely to get you thrown off of Facebook.

However, a method documented hereshows how this can be done through the auspices of a Yahoo mail account.   It is apparently a legitimate application available within Yahoo Mail for the benefit of subscribers.  How long Facebook will allow this loophole to be exploited is anyone’s idea, but given that I have a number of Facebook friends I felt it worthwhile warning folks.

The problem is not you, my trusted and good and wonderful reader, who would only use the tool for what it’s intended for – added convenience in contact management.  The problem lies with people who are a bit free and easy about who they make friends with.  If you do end up befriending a less than trustworthy individual, they could quite happily get your email address through this method, and soon enough you’ll be receiving all those wonderful offers for life enhancing medication and get rich quick schemes.

So…watch who you befriend.  Today might be a good day to prune out those folks that you’re not one hundred percent sure about!

24 hours of techno-hell!

For better or worse I’m a tad dependent upon the technology around me working to support me in my work, entertainment, staying in touch with friends – the usual.  So, I have to say now that Friday 26th February has now been officially declared ‘Techno-Hell Day’ – the day on which most aspects of communications and media technology at Pritchard Towers decided to withdraw their functionality.

As is often the way, Facebook kicked off proceedings with a smattering of the bugs for which it is well known; I can sort of handle the events of two days ago being displayed as ‘most recent’ – what tends to brass me off big time is when the Notes application in Facebook decides to stop importing my blog.  There’s usually a 5 or 6 hour delay between me writing a blog post and Facebook reflecting that fact automatically; in the last week or two there have been outages in the service that’s prevented blog posts from getting to Facebook at all.  So I’ve been manually adding details of the Blog posts, or stopping and starting the Facebook notes application – a process which seems to import TWO copies of the most recent Blog…sigh….

OK – situation normal, Facebook fuc…er…broken.

What’s this…Broadband seems rather slow.  Ooops…Broadband is now absent.  Broadband is now back…running at a tenth of normal speed.  A quick call to BT indicates that there are ‘significant network problems’ – again, this seems to have happened more frequently in the last year than in the previous 8 or 9 years we’ve had BT Broadband installed. 

And finally – attempted to record the NME Awards on the all singing, all dancing, DVD recorder.  Woke up this morning to see that the DVD recorder had decided it really didn’t WANT to record the awards for us.  It had happily recorded adverts before…just decided to crap all over the disc.  And the T4 programme about the same awards this morning seems to be full of up their own backsides presenters rather than the music.

And in to Saturday….Facebook – still stuffed.  Broadband…seems better.  DVD recorder – amazingly enough recording.

Ah well….that’s life in the white heat, bleeding edge techno-world of Pritchard Towers.  Where’s my slate and chalk?

Is this a valid test of Social Media Newsgathering?

journalistA few days ago I came across this news story, in which a group of French journalists are to be holed up in a farmhouse somewhere with no access to normal news media but with access to Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, etc.  The idea is to see whether news can be effectively and accurately reported via Social media.

It’s an interesting idea, but, just like Celebrity Big Brother, one has to ask Is there a point?’  To start with, as has been pointed out by some commentators, by announcing it in this way it’s quite possible that people will try and game the system and attempt to get some totally ludicrous story in to the news programme that these reporters will be creating in their isolated time.  And there’s the lack of ability to follow up alternate sources who aren’t on Twitter, no way of getting a gut feel from the rest of the media, etc.  In the last week there was a particularly persistent rumour on Twitter that Johnny Depp had died, which indicated the ‘life of it’s own’ aspect that many rumours have, only this time it was spread incredibly quickly and virally across Twitter, hence reaching, in the words of the beer adverts, parts other rumours in the past could not reach.  I have a gut feel that the items that interest the vast majority of people on Social Networks are unlikely to be the content of conventional ‘serious news’ outlets.  More National Enquirer than National Interest, more Geek than GATT.  I can see some areas of overlap – the major big stories like Haiti, for example.

On the other hand, if by chance the news reported by these reporters reflects to a greater or lesser degree the output of the conventional media, then it has an awful lot to say about the efficacy of the ‘citizen journalist’ in pumping out on to social media outlets news that is editorially similar to that which is reported by the mainstream. 

A further possibility is that ‘hard’ news stories that don’t get conventionally reported but that do appear on social networks and web sites such as Indymedia might be picked up and run with.  To me, this is the most interesting outcome of all, and if the reporters and their parent stations play the game with a straight bat it could give us all an intriguing insight in to the editorial policies of conventional media and how this form of newsgathering of crowdsourced stories might start showing more sides of conventional news stories than typically gets reported.

One thing that does concern me about this sort of approach, apart from validation and verification, is analysis.  Everything is a scoop; the fast nature of Social Media means that the time taken to interpret and analyse what’s happening is time in which any number of other stories will zoom by.  This is a pattern we’ve already seen in 24 hour rolling news; everything is reported quickly; the facts (or rumours) are reported with no sense of context.  It’s like trying to get a picture of the strategic and political importance of a military engagement from  a soldier who spent the whole battle in a foxhole pinned down by enemy fire.  It’s a valid viewpoint in one way, but is not a method of reporting that produces truly informed citizens.

Facebook friends limited to 150 by the brain?

facebookAs anyone who’s ever heard me rant about the ‘numbers game’ side of networking – especially on sites such as Ecademy, Linked in or Facebook – will testify, I’m a great believer in quality rather than quantity, and until the software on such sites can do more for me than it currently does in terms of augmenting my memory and the cognitive abilities I apply when trying to remember ‘Is Fred interested in Mousterian Variability or is that Jill?’ then I use these sites to more conveniently keep in touch with roughly the same number of people I would via non computer based means.

So I was pleased today to read this item, suggesting that the brain has a top limit on how many people we can keep track of.   It’s called Dunbar’s Number and is suggested by anthropologist Robin Dunbar to be about 150.  It shouldn’t be surprising; it’s been realised for years that there are optimum sizes for small teams of between 6 and 10 people, which fits with the old military idea of the ‘Brotherhood of the table’ – the ideal size of a small, self contained, fighting unit being a section of about a dozen men.  In such small teams personal loyalties develop and the team bonds quickly.  Larger groupings are employed in companies, but few large companies now look to any ‘business unit’ as having more than a couple of hundred people in them, as management becomes impersonal and the whole unit becomes less effective.

I’ve held for many years, even before the advent of Internet social networking sites, that the quantity over quality brand of personal networking is more to do with train spotting, stamp-collecting or the MI5 Registry than it is to do with maintaining close and friendly business or social relationships.  The numbers approach reduces everything to the level of transactions -‘What can ‘x’ do for me today?’, or ‘I need to know ‘z’, who can help me?’  Whilst this is indeed part of social relationships, the more is beautiful version of social networking makes it all there is to having a network, which is painfully sad.

The natural extension to this approach is what we’re seeing now; many ‘numbers based’ networking sites end up as platforms for the exchange of low-value ‘opportunities’ between people, which are rarely of value to the recipient.  Spam may be too harsh a word, but what else can you call it?  If you have a network of 2,000 people, then you’re much more likely to feel OK about ‘cold calling’ them all than you would if you had a more tightly defined network of respected confidantes, friends and valuable professional associates.  Same on Twitter – it’s easy to spam 20,000 people with marketing messages in 140 characters because you simply cannot know them all.  You’re working as a publisher.  there’s nothing wrong with that but don’t fool yourself in to believing that your relationships with those 2,000 or 20,000 people are anything other than, in most cases, opportunities for you to push your message to them.

Of course, true relationships do develop from these large numbers of what I call ‘transactional friends’, but they enter in to the 150.  The vast majority of these thousands of friends and followers seem, therefore, to be just stamps in a collector’s album.

I for one don’t want to be a collector!