Seesmic, Twhirl, and The Gillmor Gang (with Love, Grandma)

by francine Hardaway on May 3, 2008

The rant that follows is offered with incredible love and respect, though some irony. We were big on irony in the Sixties.

I am a faithful listener to The Gillmor Gang, which I use as a motivator and source of comedy while getting my heart rate up in the gym. It’s an amalgam of my favorite tech egos yelling over one another. (But I’ve already said that).

This week, they had a guest, Loic LeMeur, founder of Seesmic, which just bought Twhirl. Twhirl is a desktop Twitter client.

There. I’ve just given you all the links, but I’ve constructed a sentence of which –after the word “founder” — no one with whom I will be spending the afternoon (at a ritzy Derby Day party at the Arizona Biltmore) could understand one word, even AFTER they click on all the links. Or care.

And this is what the guys on the call (yes, all guys) called the “Grandma Tax” with great disdain. Despite the fact that I am as big an early adopter as Robert Scoble (and I always have to uninstall shit to make my laptop work again, just as he does). Despite the fact that Steve Gillmor always lets me call in to his other show, “Newsgang Live.” When I hear the electronic voice say “Mute off,” I always get a little feeling of excitement and acceptance. But I know I am not on THE CALL. THE REAL CALL. The one where they discuss the TRULY important things, like whether Mesh is real, and whether Twitter is the gateway to the network.

Gentlemen, it is. Twitter is the gateway to the network. Any grandma can tell you that. That’s why a million or more people are already using it. And when Loic gets finished doing what he is doing to Twhirl, which IMHO is all the right things, it will be an even better gateway. Could be replaced by Friendfeed, as Scoble says, but it’s the same concept. Simple and useful.

Simple little Twitter can let people who still don’t know what RSS is experience blogs. Simple little Twitter, with its single attribute, the ability to let you choose and listen to your friends, could be the way people share photos and other media in the future/ (Yes, Dave Winer, payloads).

My jury’s still out on how quickly people will integrate video into their Twitters or blog comments, although I know that many grandmas are on MS Messenger and Yahoo Messenger with video chat and webcams given to them so they can see their grandchildren.

By the way, during the first hour of the call, they hardly let Loic speak, even though he was the invited guest. And because he’s French and a gentleman, he sat silent until his moment came. If had been any of the others, he would have just leapt in.

SO: it’s even more important than keep it simple, guys. To make social media mainstream, you have to make it useful. When something is perceived immediately to be useful, and it is not daunting, even Grandma will learn it.

Take a sweater. It might be cold later. Keep in touch. Love, Grandma

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

GeekMommy May 3, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Exactly!!! ((((applause))))

One of the messages I find the hardest to get across to my friends in the tech industry – especially those ensconced in the Valley mentally (if not physically) – is that if I can’t explain it to my 70-yr-old father the lawyer what it is, it’s going to be hard to get across to the ‘average Joe’ marketing-wise.

I use him as an example because he’s excruciatingly smart, but rather nonplussed when it comes to ‘the latest gadget, widget, or bleeding-edge technology.’

He’s rather a touchstone for me when it comes to how most people outside the tech industry will react to new ideas.

It does come down to exactly what you say – is it useful? Is that use easy to perceive and appreciate? Can it be learned quickly?

I have an anecdote I sometimes share about working for a CRS company that was so proud they had rolled out a new product in conjunction with a cellphone provider that allowed someone to ‘rebook their air travel reservations by cellphone’ using what turned out to be a total of 22 keystrokes – navigating menus, searching flights, booking new flight…

When sitting in a break room with the C-level execs all congratulating each other, I said “but who will use it?”
Blustering they said “well, for instance – the business executive whose meeting runs over and he might miss his flight… he can rebook it just using his phone!”
I looked at them and said “okay, so now tell me why he will push a zillion buttons and spend 5-10 mins rebooking his flight when he can hit 1 button, speed dial his executive assitant, tell her to rebook his flight and call him back when it’s done in under 10 seconds?”

tcv May 4, 2008 at 10:36 am

Franice: I think it’s time for you to start your own podcast. :-)

tcv May 4, 2008 at 10:45 am

“FRANCINE” (Sorry ’bout that.)

Steve Gillmor May 4, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Nope, they’re both the REAL show Francine. The only reason we don’t talk tech as much on NewsGang is that politics is so damned important too. And I don’t let you in, you let yourself in. More, I wish.

As to the Grandma tax, I just plain don’t agree. We’re creating the social media platform, and I for one don’t care about mainstream adoption at this point. I’m looking for smart people who realize how important a moment in time we’re in. Broad adoption will come; it doesn’t mean what we’re doing is less important.

francine hardaway May 4, 2008 at 5:57 pm

We ARE in an important moment in time. We’ve been in one since the web became readily available, because we’ve seen millions of people come into a worldwide conversation. My dream is that the conversation, and of course the social media platform on which it takes place, can bring us mutual understanding and world peace. I know that’s sappy and won’t occur in my lifetime. But I would love to keep dreaming about it.

出会い系 Q&A May 5, 2008 at 10:07 pm


Franchise Whale May 8, 2008 at 9:55 am

Great stuff! Thanks for sharing, one fresh
idea and you can change the world, keep
up the great work.

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