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Sunday, 11 December 2011

Reflections: Online Information Conference 2011

Pretty exhausting, incredibly insightful and hugely enjoyable: that would sum up my three days as Chairman of this year’s Online Information Conference 2011, held at the Olympia Conference Centre between 29th November and 1st December. The last time the event will be run at this venue, but more about that later.

It was impossible to be everywhere and hear all of the presentations, so my reflections are by necessity limited to what I personally heard, saw or facilitated. To provide some overall context, the conference provided a forum dedicated to learning, debate, professional development, technology reviews and assessments, expert discussion and case-study presentations on what I would broadly describe as the ‘Information Professions”. There were four themed tracks:

  • Going mobile: Information and Knowledge on the move
  • Social Media: Exploiting knowledge in networks
  • Building a framework for the future of the information profession
  • New frontiers in information management
  • Search and Information Discovery

The conference opened with a keynote presentation from Craig Newmark on the topic “Effective Social Media: Past, Present and Future”.

Craig is possibly best known as the founder and inspiration behind Craigslist, the largest online local classifieds and community moderated forum service in the world. He modestly refers to himself as a “Customer Service Manager’ for Craigslist, which he himself describes as diminishing role. His time is increasingly devoted to his philanthropic efforts, as defined by the Craigslist Foundation (“….a connector to bring together nonprofit leaders, business, government, philanthropy and craigslist community members to take greater responsibility for where they live, play and work”), and the recently launched Craigconnects (“Using technology to give the voiceless a real voice, and the powerless real power”).

Craig covered quite a lot of ground in his presentation, from the earliest examples of “social media” as defined by Gutenberg,Luther and the role of the printing press in achieving massive social change, to today’s use of social media and the internet to engage with and connect people and groups with similar interests.

His focus is now very much on the nonprofits sector, where he spends about 60 hours of his working week. He referred to the scope and depth of the nonprofits sector as a “sea of help”, but pointed out that many of these people and organisations need help themselves in making more effective use of social media. He identifies Craigconnects as being a “hub”,  helping nonprofit organisations that have similar aims and objectives to connect and collaborate together. He also sees social media as a way of getting more people involved in legitimate nonprofits, and to maybe identify the fake nonprofits, i.e. those that spend most or all of their income on themselves.

Another key theme to emerge from Craig’s keynote was the issue of fact-checking in the news business.  Craig was keen to emphasise that he was not a journalist or an expert in the news industry, but felt that the disinvestment in investigative reporting and fact-checking had eroded the trust in news media. Craig was no doubt referring to the US press, but it seems to me there is some resonance on the issue of trust with the UK press, as reported via the Leveson inquiry . In fact, “trust” was a recurrent theme in both Craig’s keynote, and the keynote for the second day of the conference by Rachel Botsman (see later reference), and as Craig noted: “Trust was the new black”.

The key elements of the fact-checking debate is described in more detail in this article by Craig, recently published in the Huffington Post.  However, perhaps more memorable and particularly poignant is one of Craig’s remarks I noted from his keynote: “The press should be the immune system of democracy”.

A pre-conference podcast by Craig is available from the Online Information website.

Rachel Botsman was the keynote speaker on the second day of the conference. Rachel is a social innovator who writes, consults and speaks on the power of collaboration and sharing through current and emerging network technologies, including how it will transform business, consumerism and the way we live. She is the co-author with Roo Rogers of: What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. TIME magazine recently called Collaborative Consumption “One of the top 10 ideas that will change the world.”

Rachel is based in Australia and couldn’t be with us in London, so we had a 35-minute video that Rachel had produced especially for the conference, followed by 20 minutes of questions and answers via a live link-up with Rachel in Australia.

The keynote was broadly based on the book (a highly recommended read). It gives a stark perspective of western societies’ 40-year addiction to hyper-consumerism, and the impact this is having on people, society and the planet’s resources. The key question is whether we can continue as we are for the next 40 years or more, or whether we have to consider other economic models. I’m guessing that the broad vote is for the latter, which is why we’re witnessing the explosive growth of what Rachel refers to as “Collaborative Consumption”

Collaborative Consumption is the process of sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting and swapping, reinvented and massively scaled using internet and social network technologies. Rachel described three main systems:

Product Service Systems

Based on the idea of paying for usage of a product without needing to own the product outright.  Car sharing or bike sharing are typical examples. Witness the huge success of bike sharing schemes such as London’s Barclays Bike Hire.

Redistribution Markets

Redistribute used or pre-owned goods from where they are not needed to someone or somewhere where they are. Examples of this type of market  include Freecycle and Craigslist .

Collaborative Lifestyles

It's not just physical goods that can be shared, swapped and bartered. People with similar interests are forming groups to share and exchange assets such as time, space, skills and money.  Examples include The Tuttle Club ,  The Cube and Landshare.

Rachel was keen to emphasise that these new and emerging peer to peer (P2P) models, utilising the power and reach of the internet and social networks to massively scale, can and will co-exist with the traditional business to consumer (B2C) services. Though there is evidence that some B2C corporates are adapting their services to deliver the same sort of flexibility offered by the P2P market. For example BMW’s recently announced car sharing scheme.

Rachel’s video included a few case studies of how “micro-entrepreneurs” are creating products and services by renting selling or trading “idling time” – i.e. the time that a product or service is not being used. This could be the car that sits on the driveway for 22 hours out of every 24, the spare room that only gets used when there are visitors, or that power-drill in the tool cupboard that has only been used for 3 minutes. Services such Airbnp (room renting), Zipcar (car renting) or TaskRabbit (paying for someone to do a chore) were all mentioned. Rachel had asked the founders of TaskRabbit what was the most requested task. The answer – perhaps unsurprisingly – was assembling IKEA furniture! So, if there are any budding IKEA experts reading this – get yourselves registered on TaskRabbit and start earning some extra money!

Inevitably the issue of “trust” came up, as in who would we trust to drive our car, or stay in our house? Evidence from the many P2P services that have sprung up over the past two years would indicate that broadly speaking, people are good and considerate and that there have been very few instances of theft or vandalism (though not to trivialise the impact this may have had on the victims). Rachel went on to say that we will increasingly come to rely on our “Reputation Capital”, as an indicator of trust when transacting products and services in this emerging (and potentially huge) P2P market.

Reputational Capital might typically be defined or influenced by our engagement with online and offline communities and marketplaces. As such (and as I noted in my closing remarks), we’re increasingly familiar with “social media”, “social networks” and “social business”, we now need to seriously consider “social reputation”, i.e. how we act and behave online. Our own Reputational Capital will be a valuable commodity that we all need to nurture and protect as we become increasingly reliant on the internet as a marketplace.

I’m not sure if Craig or Rachel will be reading this blog, but if they are, grateful thanks from me, the organising committee and the delegates for your excellent and inspiring keynotes.

In the interest of brevity, I will limit the remainder of my reflections on the overall three days of the conference to a few bullet points. These are based on my personal observations or comments from the delegates.

  • There was a huge volume of “tweets” on Twitter – more than I’ve seen at any previous conference. The conference hashtag was #online11. Twitter was used by the conference delegates to share what they were hearing and seeing, and as a channel for raising questions to the presenter (there was a Twitter Moderator at all of the sessions to ensure any questions were picked up and answered).
  • We wanted to encourage more interaction with and between delegates at this conference. There was a “speed networking” event, facilitated by FutureGov Consulting and utilising the Simpl.co website for submitting new ideas or offers of help. This didn’t quite go as planned, mainly because it was scheduled against too many other events. A lesson learnt for next time.
  • Some great audience participation at the “Essential Competence – Demonstrating Value” session facilitated by Ian Woolerand Sandra Ward, where delegates were given real coins of the realm (pennies) to vote on a range of options for measuring the value of information and knowledge services. All of the coins were returned afterwards (clearly an honest crowd!).
  • David Gurteen ran one of his eponymous Knowledge Café’s. It was well attended and we received some good feedback. Speaking to a few delegates afterwards I was just slightly surprised that none of them had previously attended a Knowledge Café – which is a fairly well-established process for encouraging conversations and networking. At least they will now be able to take this process back to their respective organisations. Some photos from the Knowledge Café.
  • The was a lot of interest in the “Going Mobile” track. Maybe these statistics from a recent article in The Wall go some way to explaining this:
    • 35% of UK mobile users access social networking sites on their phones (European average is 23%)
    • Mobile social networking use in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK nearly doubled in the last year, with 55m mobile users accessing Facebook, Twitter, etc., in September alone.
    • 26% of mobile social networking users reported receiving coupons, offers, or deals on their phones.
    • Growth in the number of mobile users accessing social networks on a daily basis has surpassed the growth of total mobile social networking adoption
    • 71% of the European mobile social networking audience, accessed Facebook via a mobile device in September—the largest mobile audience of any social network—and an increase of 54% in the past year.
    •  47% of UK mobile users are using smartphones (European average is 40%)
    • 45% of the UK mobile users are using apps, (European average 35%).
  • There was a lot of interest in “Big Data” (part of the New Frontiers in Information Management Track). I moderated a number of these sessions, and came away with the impression that there is a lot of ‘activity at the coal-face’ in this field, but still relatively few examples of how business or user value is being created or delivered. For me, still on the hype curve, but some promising developments on the horizon.
  • Digital content (presentations, video, audio) from the conference is gradually being uploaded to the Online Information website and a live stream at Wavecastpro – so keep an eye out for new content appearing.

I’ll just round this off by mentioning that next year Online Information will be moving to a new venue at ICC London at ExceL, scheduled for 4-6 December 2012. This offers state of the art conferencing facilities, a much improved delegate experience, and better integration between the conference and exhibition elements. Something to look forward to in 2012.

I hope those who that attended the conference found it as informative and exhilarating as I did – I await to see the feedback with some anticipation.

For anyone else, I hope this brief summary might give a taster of what it was all about, and perhaps you might be tempted to attend next year’s event.

Until next year – have a great Christmas and a happy New Year!

Stephen Dale

Chairman, Online Information Conference 2011.

 

Nobel Peace Prize Winners - Three Incredible Women

Nobel Peace Prize Winners - Three Incredible Women


I was privileged to be in the audience yesterday at the Oslo City Hall for the CNN interview with the three Nobel Peace Prize Winner Laureates; Yemen's Tawakku Karman, Liberia's Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her compatriot Leymah Gbowee. The first time the prize has been awarded to three women. 

Well worth watching the interview, not only to get a true sense of the incredible achievements of these three ladies in making a stand against oppression, corruption and terrorism, but also the robust response to some slightly naive (condescending?) questioning from the interviewer, Jonathan Mann.  You do not tangle with these three ladies! I personally felt very humbled by what they have individually achieved - well deserved winners of this prestigious award.   #ciscopss #nobel #oslo



http://edition.cnn.com/2011/12/10/world/europe/norway-peace-prize-women/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Social Media: Exploiting Knowledge in Networks

There are still some places available on the "Exploiting Knowledge in Networks" training event next week, Tuesday 4th October.

The training focuses on use of Social Media tools to support Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) and self development. The following is brief synopsis of the training and what will be covered:

Introduction:

There is a desire to develop more effective knowledge sharing and a culture of collaboration in most organisations, but little recognition of what this means in terms of staff development and overcoming barriers to change. The enormous growth of social media tools and social/professional networks over the past few years has created new opportunities and new challenges for people and organisations who want to embrace this dynamic world of social interaction and fluid knowledge flows. However, It is not widely recognised that collaboration and knowledge sharing are skills and practices that rarely get taught. It's something we may learn on the job in a hit or miss fashion. Some people are natural at it. Others struggle to understand it. 

This one day course provides a practical and detailed introduction to social media and social/professional networks that will enable delegates to have a greater understanding of their context for use and deployment within their organisation and for personal and professional development.

Outcomes:

  • An understanding of social media tools and social networks, and their context for engagement and knowledge sharing
  • An understanding of on-line privacy, reputational risk, and the dichotomy of personal and professional identities
  • An understanding of the barriers to knowledge sharing and collaboration and how these can be overcome
  • An understanding of the principles for creating a personalised social media toolkit to support on-going learning and collaboration

Programme:

  • Overview of the social web
  • Risks and rewards in the use of social media
  • Creating and maintaining your personal profile
  • Social media tools and their context for knowledge sharing
  • Listening and observing; an introduction to aggregation, sentiment and tracking tools
  • Developing your social network and making connections (includes Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+)
  • Communities of Interest/Practice for personal and professional development
  • Practical exercises and examples of Social Media in action

If you'd like to book a place on this training course, go to the TFPL website and click on the "book" link. If you'd like more information about the course then please contact me (e.g. use the comments facility in this blog).

If you can't make the 4th October event, the course will be repeated on 6th March 2012 and 2nd October 2012.

Posted via email from stephendale's posterous

Saturday, 20 August 2011

A letter to Mr Cameron

Dear Mr. Cameron

May I suggest that as a punishment for all these hooligans on our streets you put all the criminals into nursing homes and allow the nursing home residents to go into prison.

This way us pensioners would be able to make ends meet,  

have free unlimited access to central heating and hot water, medical requirements and hobbies.  Each of us could  have secure furnished rooms equipped with our computer, TV and radio and be allowed free daily phone calls and all this with the benefit of constant video monitoring so we could be helped instantly should we fall or need assistance.

Our bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing ironed and returned to our rooms. We would not have to shop for food as all our meals would be in house, delivered to our cells.  We would be relieved of finding the money to pay for all the increases in our bills.

We know we would be allowed family visits in a suite built for that purpose.  In addition  have access to a library, gym, swimming pool, gardens education and spiritual counselling, should we need it.

Sadly this enormous change would result in the criminals getting inferior food, being left alone all day unsupervised with no computers and internet access or free phone calls.  However, they would get a weekly bath and hardest of all they would have to pay the enormous sum of between £700-£900 a week  for these privileges – but no doubt you would find a way to subsidise this for them.

Also on another subject Mr Cameron, whilst writing I would like to know the real reason why we can no longer have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse or in Parliament.  Is this because you cannot possibly allow commands such as ‘Thou shalt not Steal’, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ and ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’ to be visible in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians in case someone is offended!  

May I suggest Mr. Cameron that as a starting point to correcting all that is wrong in our society, you pass a law that all schools teach the ten commandments in an effort to re-educate our society in the basics of  respect, discipline and morality, and that you stop worrying about offending people of other faiths or no faith.

I feel sure Mr. Cameron, that  if you could see your way to implementing some of these changes, you would be assured of the grey vote at the next election.

Yours respectfully.

 S Dale

Posted via email from Pot Pouri

A letter to Mr Cameron

Dear Mr. Cameron

May I suggest that as a punishment for all these hooligans on our streets you put all the criminals into nursing homes and allow the nursing home residents to go into prison.

This way us pensioners would be able to make ends meet,  have free unlimited access to central heating and hot water, medical requirements and hobbies.  Each of us could  have secure furnished rooms equipped with our computer, TV and radio and be allowed free daily phone calls and all this with the benefit of constant video monitoring so we could be helped instantly should we fall or need assistance.

Our bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing ironed and returned to our rooms. We would not have to shop for food as all our meals would be in house, delivered to our cells.  We would be relieved of finding the money to pay for all the increases in our bills.

We know we would be allowed family visits in a suite built for that purpose.  In addition  have access to a library, gym, swimming pool, gardens education and spiritual counselling, should we need it.

Sadly this enormous change would result in the criminals getting inferior food, being left alone all day unsupervised with no computers and internet access or free phone calls.  However, they would get a weekly bath and hardest of all they would have to pay the enormous sum of between £700-£900 a week  for these privileges – but no doubt you would find a way to subsidize this for them.

Also on another subject Mr Cameron, whilst writing I would like to know the real reason why we can no longer have the Ten Commandments posted in a courthouse or in Parliament.  Is this because you cannot possibly allow commands such as ‘Thou shalt not Steal’, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ and ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’ to be visible in a building full of lawyers, judges and politicians in case someone is offended!  

May I suggest Mr. Cameron that as a starting point to correcting all that is wrong in our society, you pass a law that all schools teach the ten commandments in an effort to re-educate our society in the basics of  respect, discipline and morality, and that you stop worrying about offending people of other faiths or no faith.

I feel sure Mr. Cameron, that  if you could see your way to implementing some of these changes, you would be assured of the grey vote at the next election.

Yours respectfully.

 S Dale

Posted via email from stephendale's posterous

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Think differently about the world and you will always do well

Loved this from Toby Moores,  (now DR Toby Moores) - which I'll add to my list of favourite quotes:

There is no point in being in a straight foot race with people who are faster than you. But if you fire the gun you will always have a job and if you hand out trophies you will always be on the podium. 

If you are prepared to think differently about the world you will always do well.

There's hope for me yet then!

Posted via email from stephendale's posterous

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Call for input on 'Apps' for Online Information Conference 2011

Online Information 2011 Logo

We are finalising the programme for this year's Online Information Conference (29 Nov to 1 Dec). We have lined up a number of internationally recognised keynote speakers for the five main themes for the conference:

  • Going mobile: Information and knowledge on the move
  • Social media: Exploiting knowledge in social networks
  • Building a framework for the future of the information profession
  • New frontiers in information management
  • Search and information discovery

Details about the programme and speakers will be announced shortly on the conference website.

We are still seeking some input to the 'Going Mobile' track, and specifically on the creative use of Apps for mobile devices (e.g. smart phones or tablets). If you have delivered an app that can demonstrate value to the user or more effective and efficient services for the provider, and you'd like the opportunity to showcase the app (or apps) to our global audience of information professionals, then we'd like to hear from you. Typically the app might be:
  • an e-book lending service
  • a location-based app for reporting problems
  • an app for paying for a council service, e.g. parking.
  • an app for health
  • ....or something that no-one else has thought of!

Please respond to this post if you have a story to tell and would like a featured spot in the conference.

Many thanks.

Stephen Dale
Conference Chairman

Posted via email from stephendale's posterous

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Google+ the Facebook killer?

Google has announced details of it's latest foray into social networking with Google+. The core components appear to consist of :



o Circles (equivalent to groups) - where information can be shared privately. With Circles you can put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another and your boss in a circle all on his own!

o Hangouts - lets friends know that you're free for a video chat or impromptu virtual meet-up.

o Sparks - a sort of activity stream subscription feature, It looks for videos and articles that it thinks you'll like, based on what your interests.



There's also a Google+ mobile app available in the Android Market, which will no doubt soon come to Apple’s App Store.



It seems that Google have put a lot of thought into making all of this hang together in a seamless and natural way, and this is clearly laying the foundations for Google's future presence in the social web. It will certainly make Facebook sit up and take notice, but I'm not sure whether it will pull many users away from Facebook. However, I do believe there is room for more than one social media behemoth in the market, and for the significant many who dislike Facebook or find it overly complex, Google+ offers a compelling alternative.



Google+ is currently in an invitation- only “Field Trial” period, so only a select few can access the service at this time. Google+ will be going live to the general public soon, the company says.

Amplify’d from www.digitaltrends.com
Google-plus
At long last, Google has announced its newest foray into the world of social media with a new service called Google+. But this time, Google could have a winner.

Google turned the world of social media on its head today with the much-anticipated unveiling of the “top-secret” Google+ project, a massive new type of service that essentially turns all of Google into one giant social network.

While Facebook, with its 700 million users, is a vast social network, made for connecting with as many people as you can get to accept a friend request, Google+  aims to redefine the way people connect online by letting users create a variety of smaller groups, called “Circles,” which allows people to share information and content with only the friends or colleagues they choose.

gplus_circle editor

“We believe online sharing is broken. And even awkward,” said Google’s President of Social Vic Gandora in an interview with TechCrunch. “We think connecting with other people is a basic human need. We do it all the time in real life, but our online tools are rigid. They force us into buckets — or into being completely public.” By comparison, he says, “[r]eal life sharing is nuanced and rich.” With Google+, Google has tried to adapt the richness of real life interactions into an online software.

gplus_stream

Like Facebook’s News Feed, Google+ gives users a dashboard with a flow of updates from their friends. Shared content, comments, photos etc are divided into “Streams,” one for each Circle of friends. Users can customize their security settings to allow some contacts to view personal information while hiding it from others.

Google+ can also be controlled through a newly redesigned navigation bar, which will appear at the top of the page of any Google product. Through this, Google+ users can access their profile, check notifications, and instantly share content to their various Circles.

gplus_sparks

Google has also built in a friend-finding feature called “Sparks,” which acts as a kind of search engine for hobbies. So if, say, you’re interested in single malt Scotch whisky, simply enter in “single malt Scotch” into the Sparks search bar, and Google will deliver content it thinks you might enjoy. (Google’s recently-launched +1 Button plays a role in what makes it to the top of these lists.) Find something you like, and simply click on it to add it to your list of interests. You can also connect with fellow enthusiasts in the “featured interests” area, and see what they are chatting about.

Next on the staggering list of Google+ features is what Google calls “Hangouts,” which is a group video chat feature. A Google+ user can simply launch a new Hangout session. Friends are alerted, and are free to join in. Up to 10 users can be in a single Hangout at a time. Any more, and they’re placed on the waiting list.

The final major feature to Google+ is its mobile functionality. The Google+ mobile app is currently available in the Android Market, and will soon come to Apple’s App Store. The Google+ mobile features include “Huddle” for group messaging, as well as an auto-upload feature that automatically adds any photo or video taken on your smartphone through Google+ to a private folder in the cloud. These files are then accessible the next time you log on to Google+ on a computer, and can be shared for up to eight hours after upload.

Google is currently in an invite-only “Field Trial” period, so only a select lucky few can access the service at this time. Google+ will be going live to the general public soon, the company says.

From what we’ve seen so far, Google+ seems like a giant leap in the right direction for Google — and far more robust than Buzz or Orkut. Obviously, there’s a lot here to sort through, so check back soon for more on Google+

Read more at www.digitaltrends.com
 

Monday, 20 June 2011

Social Graph and Open APIs

Apple seems to be doing alright with it's proprietary and closed social graph; the rest of the pack continue to add value to their networks using open APIs to share social network data. So it appears there really is room for two quite different business models. However, as many social networkers have found out, there's no harm in having a foot in both camps!

Amplify’d from www.businessinsider.com

Viadeo, the European counterpart of LinkedIn operating a professional social network of 35m members, is about to release its public API by the end of this month.

Most of analysts or observers just do not care, considering open APIs as hacking news. They are wrong : open APIs are questions of survival for social web services.

The war of social APIs

Facebook paved the way of releasing open APIs to provide third parties access to its sensitive data. The open APIs have now become the standard for all social web apps : LinkedIn, Flickr, Twitter, Orkut, Plaxo… Twitter would have been a completely different company without its open API which drove the emergence of multiple clients and the integration of tweet functions in almost every web service.

At that time, the Facebook open API was the pillar of a risky strategy.

Let’s get back to the original sin. In early 2007, Facebook adopted this anti-Apple strategy of not keeping the core of its value (people’s networks) in house. Several millions of websites now interface with Facebook to personalize and socialize their web experience. This deep ecosystem is probably what strengthens Facebook the most and what makes the company a long-term leader. To go further (and a little provocative) I would even say that Facebook has a strongest long-term position than Google, because of its social graph.

There are not so many visionaries like Zuck to bet this way. In Facebook’s situation, the obvious by-the-book mainstream strategy (by that time) would have been to keep its zillions of users captive and feed them up with ads.

If you allow your users to go away with their network, you take the huge risk of easing your competitors : someone builds a better platform than yours and siphons your users and their friends.

Another risk is to be accused of privacy breaches. Think about this : when you share your pictures, posts and personal profile with some friend on Facebook, you do not imagine that your friend can give all your data to another web service. This is the principle of social APIs : bring your friends with you anywhere.

Fortunately for Facebook, the privacy debate is close to be over now and the generation Y has no concern for this matter.

Read more at www.businessinsider.com
 

Thursday, 16 June 2011

1000 Social Media Statistics

One of many websites and services offering social media statistics. Add this one to your bookmarks!

In March this year, we launched our social statistics pages, offering all the statistics we can find on the web relating to social media, neatly categorised with their source and date.

And as promised, we have been updating these every Friday since then and we have now collected 1,000 social media statistics. We’re pretty chuffed with ourselves actually.

The stats can be found below:

Read more at www.b2bsocialmediaguide.com
 

Thursday, 2 June 2011

What is Web 3.0?

A good - if slightly over-simplified - introduction to the semantic web (though personally I dislike thinking of it as a chronological sequence that started with 'Web 1.0'). Also beware this selling services from EPN (Dutch company).

Amplify’d from www.neowin.net


Some could argue that the concept of Web 3.0 has been around for quite some time although in truth, no one can really pinpoint the exact evolution the World Wide Web will take. We saw Web 1.0 in which simple HTML pages were put together to display information that was primarily meant for academics at first before moving onto the general public and the internet became a 1990s and indeed 2000s phenomenon.


Web 2.0 was a concept that many could both see and not see coming. Advances in website design primarily by those that pushed the boundaries and the introduction of techniques being used such as XHTML and CSS made sure that webpages were becoming more complex. But that alone was not the only factor; the use of Flash on the internet as well as AJAX made webpages alive with interactive information. They were more accessible to the user, displayed information in a more understandable way and most importantly changed the way we look at the internet. What we didn’t necessarily expect however was the growth of social networking. Having online friendships, connecting with people on Facebook including old friends and perusing Twitter for the latest real time news is a totally different world from the 1990s. The recent case of a resident living near Osama Bin Laden’s compound reporting what was happening before the story broke around the world is a testament to how our views have changed. The world is connected.


But Web 3.0 is different. The idea behind it puts webpages in the spotlight of being clever. At the moment a webpage does what its coding tells it to do and nothing more but as Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web puts it, Web 3.0 will be a collection of changes with one aspect being a Semantic web. This is where more information is available to be read by machines of that specific webpage therefore resulting in a better browsing experience and even being able to perform particular tasks on the user’s behalf. In other words, it’s a web which can bring numerous answers together into one understandable reasoning. Try for yourself and compare the results that you get, there are several semantic search engines around, the one I used was DuckDuckGo. Do a search for Wikipedia and notice the difference in results. While the search engines still have a way to go, it highlights the change of focus on information.


An example of this could be that someone wishes to get opinions of a movie that they’re thinking of going to see. A webpage could be able to intelligently search, similar in a sense to how a search engine works at the moment, to look for the same type of metadata to provide an overview. At the moment, many movie review sites use different rating mechanisms that make it difficult to truly compare properly.


Could this be practical though? People have a tendency to lie in the real world and very often over the internet. People have in the past placed misinformation on webpages and its coding. In a system which tries to make sense and even compute some data, it would be very difficult to weed out. Think of GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out), a thought process often used with data programs such as Excel, what you put in is what you get out.


How much can we protect personal data? A lot of news stories in the past few years have focused on the lack of privacy people have on Facebook or at least the difficulty in understanding it. Using that as an example, imagine semantic search engines being able to look into this information and use it in a general pool. To what extent can we use that information?


Web 3.0 isn’t just about intelligent data though, it’s about emphasising that computers could become personalised to the user’s needs. An internet that is focussed on the individual and can deliver results relevant to them in a much more efficient way are both features some expect to see. On close inspection, you realise that we already have technologies which are beginning to step into these ideas, such as behavioural advertisements and personalised homepages. But it’s a question of having that implemented across a large extent of the internet, not just on certain webpages.


How Web 3.0 ends up in practice may be somewhat different from the theories that currently exist to try and predict how the use of the internet will change. Some argue that Web 3.0 is an unrealised idea and that we’re comfortable living in a Web 2.0 world. However things take time to change and it may be years yet before we see another monumental shift in the way we use the world’s network.

Read more at www.neowin.net
 

Monday, 16 May 2011

Who Will Win the Facebook and Google War?

Like two sumo wrestlers srtruggling to get the first fall! I have to laugh about Google's corporate motto "Don't be evil" - maybe this needs to be amended to ...."except to Facebook".



And Facebook are just as bad - pretending to care about their user's privacy when their previous track records shows blatant disregard for it.



As for us users, the best thing to realise is that there is no such thing as privacy on the Internet. If you want privacy cancel your internet contract and throw away your mobile phone. In the mean time, stand back and watch the wrestling!

Amplify’d from latino.foxnews.com
In this May, 26, 2010 file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks about the social network site's new privacy settings in Palo Alto, Calif. Schools in New Jersey's largest city are poised to receive $100 million Friday, Sept. 24, 2010, from the founder of Facebook.

Ali-Frazier. Yankees-Red Sox. Celtics-Lakers. The sports world has often seen knock-down, drag-out battles between titans. But seldom do massive companies zero in on each other.

In the latest salvo of an increasingly nasty war, Facebook hired public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller to try to covertly get journalists and bloggers to write negative articles about Google's privacy practices relating to its new social media feature. 

The feature in question, Social Circle, allows Facebook user information to show up via a Google search.. While Facebook says Google is infringing on its users privacy, some say, Facebook railing on about the abuse of its users privacy is like the pot calling the kettle black.

"The competition is between the new and the old -- between Facebook as the early leader in the social Web, and Google as the dominant player in the content Web. Everyone else, such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Twitter, will play a secondary role," adds Valdes, "and will start lining up on one side or the other."

Lance Rios, Founder of Being LatinoAs stated in the movie 'The Social Network', "the internet isn't written in pencil, it's written in ink". As so, we can never expect for anything to be fully private in any capacity, ESPECIALLY when it comes to social networking sites. What Google is doing is wrong and intrusive and I see it to be a direct violation of our rights and believe that they will soon be reprimanded. 

While this specific incident will not be the last of companies trying to invade our personal lives, I do think that it will set off a red flag, leading many companies to be a little more conservative about how to approach people and their privacy.

Louis Pagan, Content Director for Hispanicize: This is not shocking to me. Google is making use of already public data...the big 'problem' with social media is just that - the media that you put out there is public. If that's a 'bug' in social media that needs to be fixed is another conversation. Unfortunately, the public is slow in learning this.

What I find disturbing about this story is the sneaky tactic that Facebook used to bring this to the public's attention. Back door deals, and back door conversations are suspicious in their very nature and should be taken with a grain of salt. It seems that Facebook wanted this story to go viral and wipe their hands clean from it.

It's like a cold war between the two companies, and the coveted prize is user data.

Julio Ricardo Varela, Founder of Latino Rebels: As a prophet of social media, Facebook made a huge error by turning this over to a PR company. It surprised me, since they are all about transparency, but in this case, they acted just like any other technology corporation.

The Google tactics don't bother me at all. My profile is protected on Facebook but I also allow some of my information to go out into cyberspace. From a marketing perspective, being linked to Google creates a greater opportunity for someone new to click on your profile. Makes sense to me.

In the end, this is moot, since Facebook will buy out Google in three years.

Read more at latino.foxnews.com
 

Monday, 2 May 2011

Happy memories of Punch and Judy

Had a great Bank Holiday weekend watching a show about a dysfunctional family, complete with husband and wife battering, child cruelty, and assault on a police officer. We had such fun, and everyone laughed when the baby was thrown out of the window. Ah yes, good ol' Punch and Judy. It's somehow comforting to know that the story hasn't yet been 'sanitised' by the politically correct lobby (also known as the British Taliban), and is much the same as when I first saw it as a toddler - all those hundreds of years ago!

For those ignorant of such quaint customs, the story is roughly as follows:

The show starts with the arrival of Mr. Punch followed by the introduction of Judy. They kiss and dance before Judy requests Mr. Punch to look after the baby. Punch fails to carry this task out appropriately, sitting on the baby in a failed attempt to "babysit", and even putting it through the sausage machine. He then drops it out of the window onto the floor. Cue little child who rushes to pick it up and on tippy-toes tries to hand it back to Punch - but can't quite reach. Cue slightly taller child who similarly fails. This sequence continues until finally one of the older children in the audience finally has sufficient height to hand the baby back to Mr Punch.  Judy returns, is outraged, fetch's a stick and the knockabout commences. A policeman arrives in response to the mayhem and is himself felled by Punch's slapstick. All this is carried out at breakneck and farcical speed with much involvement from the gleefully shouting children in the audience. Enter Joey the Clown who suggests it's dinner time. This leads to the production of a string of sausages which Mr Punch has to look after. Cue even greater audience participation with the arrival of the crocodile, which Mr. Punch does not see until the children shout out and lets him know. Punch's subsequent struggle with the crocodile leaves him in need of a Doctor who arrives and attempts to treat Punch by walloping him with a stick until Punch reciprocates.  Punch then counts his "victims" by laying puppets on the stage only for Joey the Clown to move them about behind his back in order to frustrate him. A ghost appears and gives Mr. Punch a fright before it too is chased off with a slapstick. 

In the version I remember, a hangman would arrive to punish Mr. Punch, only to himself be tricked into sticking his head in the noose. This seems to have been expunged from this most recent performance, so I guess we have moved on with the times. Maybe later versions will include an ASBO or community service!. Anyway, great fun was had by all, and I'm so pleased I haven't succeeded in growing up yet!

Posted via email from stephendale's posterous

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Data is the new oil

Loved this abstract from a blog by 'media futurist' Gerd Leonard:

Getting too little or bad data -- or not understanding it-- will literally mean running out of gas in the middle of the desert. Therefore, the mission is to keep it all fueled up. And just like oil, there will be a myriad of issues (hopefully, not wars) that will arise with the responsible and fair practices of drilling, pumping, shipping, refining and dispensing of data.

An excellent metaphor for the crazy world of data!

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Saturday, 23 April 2011

Cascade data visualisation

Cascade - data visualisation of the impact of a single Tweet; shows sharing activity to construct a detailed picture of how information propagates through the social media space. Cool!

http://nytlabs.com/projects/movies/projectcascade.mov

Cascade was developed by R&D using open source tools including Processing and MongoDB.

Posted via email from stephendale's posterous