David Kirkpatrick

December 17, 2010

The perfect t-shirt …

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:56 am

… for anyone who’s sick of social media.

From the link:

In case others don’t understand the essence of MySpace, Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, make perfectly clear the commonalities of these social sites with this T-shirt.
$15.95; www.despair.com

 

October 8, 2010

Watch out for Facebook’s “groups” overhaul

Filed under: Business, et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:56 am

Once again Facebook creates a PR headache for itself with the changes to Facebook groups. You just might find yourself part of a group you don’t really want to be a member of …

From the link:

That was followed by general confusion, with some reporting that Facebook’s new feature could be used to unilaterally add anyone to a group.

But that isn’t the case. The groups feature now lets users automatically add existing friends to groups, but they can’t do this with people they don’t know.

How did Zuckerberg get added to NAMBLA then? That’s all down to tech blogger Arrington. “I typed in his name and hit enter,’ Arrington wrote on TechCrunch. “He’s my Facebook friend, I therefore have the right to add him.”

Arrington added that “as soon as Zuckerberg unsubscribed I lost the ability to add him to any further groups at all, another protection against spamming and pranks.”

A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed that group members can only add their friends to the group. “If you have a friend that is adding you to groups you do not want to belong to, or they are behaving in a way that bothers you, you can tell them to stop doing it, block them or remove them as a friend — and they will no longer ever have the ability to add you to any group,” she wrote in an e-mail. “If you don’t trust someone to look out for you when making these types of decisions on the site, we’d suggest that you shouldn’t be friends on Facebook.”

 

August 18, 2010

Social networking advertising tops $1.5B

And not surprisingly Facebook is getting half of the $1.68 billion in social media/web 2.0 advertising forecasted for 2010. Facebook offers a very attractive advertising model in terms of very granular audience targeting coupled with a flexible set of criteria for creating an ad campaign. Expect to see more advertising dollars going into social networking in the future, particularly if it proves out to be very effective.

From the link:

Just after Facebook hit 500 million users last month, some analysts increased their 2010 forecasts for spending on social media advertising.

U.S. advertising is expected to increase 20% over last year to $1.68 billion, up from December’s forecast of $1.3 billion, according to a study by digital research group EMarketer.

“That’s primarily due to the strong performance of Facebook and somewhat due to the fact that we started adding Twitter to our analysis,” said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst.

The study, conducted every six months, also measures sites such as MySpace, LinkedIn and Classmates.com as well as popular sites in China, Japan and Russia for worldwide figures.

Half of that $1.68 billion spent by U.S. advertisers will go to Facebook, according to the study. By 2011, advertisers will spend $1.06 billion on the San Francisco company — a 112% increase from 2009.

July 8, 2010

Citizen journalism v. traditional media

This University of Missouri study shows citizen journalism (read: bloggers, et.al.) is not filling the void created by the collapse of traditional media. In an ideal world the two complement each other to provide a more rich picture of what’s going on in the world. The reality is traditional media has done an absolutely terrible job of transitioning to the digital world and reacting to web 2.0 technologies, and now it’s being hammered by an incredibly weak economy. The end result? We all lose out in the long run. Maybe some new paradigm for professional journalism grows out of the media mess of the last ten years or so.

The release:

Citizen Journalism v. Legacy News: The Battle for News Supremacy

MU researchers say citizen journalism does not match void left by legacy news organizations

July 08, 2010

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A team of researchers from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and two other schools say that even the top 60 citizen websites and bloggers are not filling the information shortfall that has resulted from cutbacks in traditional media.

“While many of the blogs and citizen journalism sites have done very interesting and positive things, they are not even close to providing the level of coverage that even financially stressed news organizations do today,” said Margaret Duffy, associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. “Not only do these blogs and websites lack the staff to adequately cover stories, but most citizen journalism managers do not have the financial resources and business experience to make their websites viable over time.”

Duffy collaborated with Esther Thorson, associate dean for graduate studies at the MU School of Journalism, and Mi Jangh, doctoral candidate at MU, along with others at Michigan State and North Carolina. The Pew and Knight foundations underwrote the research.

The researchers identified a number of factors including how much linking each website included, how much public participation they allowed or invited, how frequently news and content were updated, and whether the citizen websites provided contact information for the public.

Duffy says it is important to understand how citizen journalism and legacy news organizations co-exist. She believes it is critical that democracy have an effective journalistic presence. With many newspapers and broadcast news outlets struggling financially, she is concerned about the future of journalism.

“A strong democracy depends on vibrant, robust news coverage with informed citizens and voting public,” Duffy said. “If news media have to cut back and are unable to provide the same level of coverage for their communities that they did in the past, citizen journalism may need to step in. That is why it is important to examine what these websites need to do to improve and survive. “

Elements of the study were published in the Newspaper Research Journal as well as presented at the International Communication Association conference June 24 in Singapore.

–30–

Twitter adds an income stream

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:08 pm

And it sounds both sensible and quite unobtrusive. Kudos to Twitter for looking for ways to create revenue without wrecking a unique web experience.

From the link:

You’re probably familiar with the “Groupons” of the world—social buying sites that offer deals on everything from oil changes to spa treatments, provided a certain number of people commit to purchasing it.

Today Twitter joined this trend with the launch of @earlybird Exclusive Offers, a Twitter account that will promote time-bound deals, sneak-peaks and events exclusively for its followers.

To receive alerts on these deals, Twitter users will need to follow the @earlybird account. @Earlybird will tweet the deals, which will appear in your stream, just like any other tweet from users you follow.

At first, Twitter will be partnering with with select advertisers—large international brands, it says—to develop offers solely for the Twitter community. These brands will determine the price, quantity for sale and the duration of the deal. Twitter, in turn, will earn a cut of the money that the brand brings in from sales.

July 6, 2010

Social media, mobile devices and GPS

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:44 pm

A pretty nasty privacy combination.

Sure many people willingly broadcast their whereabouts at all times via all sorts of social media, but I’m betting most people really don’t want their location tracked at all times. This is where the privacy issue comes into play and why the linked story should give everyone more than a little pause — even those who are giving the milk away for free so to speak.

From the link:

A study out this week from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) shows that mobile social networks are giving data about users’ physical locations to tracking sites and other social networking services. Researchers reported that all 20 sites that were studied leaked some kind of private information to third-party tracking sites.

“This initial look at mobile online social networks raises some serious concerns, but there is more work to be done,” said Craig Wills, professor of computer science at WPI and co-author of the study. “The fact that third-party sites now seem to have the capacity to build a comprehensive and dynamic portrait of mobile online social network users argues for a comprehensive way to capture the entire gamut of privacy controls into a single, unified, simple, easy-to-understand framework, so that users can make informed choices about their online privacy and feel confident that they are sharing their personal, private information only with those they choose to share it with.”

Think this issue is something of a nonstarter? Chew on this for a little while:

he researchers found that all 20 sites leaked some kind of private information to third-party tracking sites. In many cases, the data given out contained the user’s unique social networking identifier, which could allow third-party sites to connect the records they keeps of users’ browsing behavior with the their profiles on the social networking sites, the study said.

Mobile social networks track users’ geographic location by tapping into the data on the mobile devices.

The study noted that only two social networks directly gave location information to the third-party tracking sites, but several use a third-party map service to show the user’s location on a map. The study also reported that six different sites transmit a unique identifier to the user’s mobile phone, enabling third-party sites to continue to track a user’s location even as the phone is used for other applications.

June 15, 2010

Facebook to IPO in 2012?

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:55 pm

Maybe so.

From the link:

To be sure, Facebook has focused on increasing its membership, and it has been wildly successful on that score: the number of Facebook accounts is now nearing 500 million. So the sheer size of the Facebook audience is attractive to advertisers and app makers; and as a bonus, Facebook provides data tools to advertisers that help them make meaningful impressions on members of that audience.

But the company is deeply indebted to its venture capital backers, who, while already seeing dividends from Facebook’s current business, are looking forward to a big payday (investment plus return) at some visible point in the future. For now, Facebook’s investors are giving Zuckerberg and company plenty of time. People familiar with the situation say that you won’t see a Facebook IPO this year or next year, but you probably will see one in 2012.

June 14, 2010

And newspapers wonder why they are a dying breed

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:31 am

Via KurzweilAI.net — You couldn’t make this stuff up, “That social media thing? It’s a passing fad …”

NYT Bans The Word Tweet “Outside Of Ornithological Contexts”
The Awl, June 10, 2010

Phil Corbett, standards editor at the Times, has sent a memo asking writers to abstain from “tweet” as a noun or a verb, referring to messages on Twitter.
Read Original Article>>

June 1, 2010

Over half of Facebook users may quit?

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:16 pm

I find this poll very dubious to say the least. I’m guessing there’s a serious methodology issue in the surveyed population. A very tech savvy crowd would have a much higher awareness of Facebook privacy issues, and would also be much more likely to have a strong, and or negative, opinion of the privacy issue than the average casual social networker.

From the link:

More than half of Facebook users are considering dumping the popular social networking site because of privacy concerns, according to the results a new Sophos poll .

Abingdon, U.K.-based Sophos said 16% of poll respondents said have already stopped using Facebook because of privacy issues. The results of the online poll of some 1,600 Facebook users, released this week, found that 30% are “highly likely” to quit Facebook due to privacy concerns, and another 30% said it was “possible” they would leave the site for the same reason.

Meanwhile, 12% of respondents said that won’t leave he site and 12% said it’s “not likely” that they’ll quit Facebook

May 25, 2010

Even more on social media and privacy

And this one isn’t just limited to Facebook.

Social networking sites may be sharing a lot more of your identifying data with their advertisers than you realize.

From the link:

A report in the Wall Street Journal indicates that a number of social networking sites (including Facebook, MySpace, and Digg) may be sharing users’ personal information with advertisers. Since the Journal started looking into this possible breach of privacy, both Facebook and MySpace have moved to make changes.

The practice is actually a somewhat defensible one–and most of the companies involved did try to defend it–in which the advertisers receive information on the last page viewed before the user clicked on their ad. This is common practice all over the web, and, in most cases, is no issue–advertisers receive information on the last page viewed, which cannot be traced back to the user. In the case of social networking sites, the information on the last page viewed often reveals user names or profile ID numbers that could potentially be used to look up the individuals.

Depending on what those individuals have made public, advertisers can then see anything from hometowns to real names.

The Journal interviewed some of the advertisers who received the data (including Google’s (GOOG) DoubleClick and Yahoo’s (YHOO) Right Media), who said they were unaware of the data and had not used it.

For some reason I find that last claim from DoubleClick and Right Media a bit hard to believe.

Third party Facebook privacy fix

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:57 pm

If you use Facebook, running this tool is a pretty good idea. It’ll at least let you find out exactly what parts of your profile are exposed where and to whom. With the steady diet of privacy setting changes that require opting-out instead of opting-in, you might be surprised where your Facebook information stands in the public/private online sphere.

From the link:

About a week ago, as frustration with Facebook and its privacy settings reached its pinnacle, Matt Pizzimenti, a software engineer and cofounder of Olark.com, launched ReclaimPrivacy.org, a site that scans your Facebook settings and warns you of what information you’re exposing to the public.

“I felt that [Facebook’s] navigation was too complicated to explain to my less-technical friends and family, so I built this tool to help them quickly see their privacy settings and change them,” Pizzimenti says.

May 11, 2010

The Facebook Effect

No, I’m not the David Kirkpatrick who authored the upcoming book on Facebook — The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World — but if you enjoy social networking, social media, the Facebook experience in general or just interesting tales from the world of business, hit the link and pre-order a copy.

There is some confusion because I do blog fairly often on social media/web 2.0 and occasionally blog about Facebook specifically, and I’ve been a professional freelance writer for many years. The David Kirkpatrick who wrote “The Facebook Effect” has most recently been a senior editor at Fortune magazine, and to add just a little more murk into the mix there’s yet another David Kirkpatrick who’s a reporter for the New York Times. Most recently that David Kirkpatrick served as the Washington DC correspondent and I understand he is to transfer to the Cairo bureau sometime soon.

So there you go. Do continue to enjoy this blog, pick up a copy of “The Facebook Effect” by one of the other David Kirkpatrick’s out there and keep on reading yet another in the NYT.

May 3, 2010

Facebook is a privacy nightmare

Here’s a timeline of the social networking site’s eroding privacy policy courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

From the link:

Since its incorporation just over five years ago, Facebook has undergone a remarkable transformation. When it started, it was a private space for communication with a group of your choice. Soon, it transformed into a platform where much of your information is public by default. Today, it has become a platform where you have no choice but to make certain information public, and this public information may be shared by Facebook with its partner websites and used to target ads.

4.12 degrees of separation

That’s the average path between users of Twitter. Pretty amazing.

From the link:

The ideas behind Stanley Milgram’s original “six degrees of separation” experiment, which suggested that any two people on earth could be connected by at most six hops from one acquaintance to the next, have been widely applied to online social networks.

On the MSN messenger network of 180 million users, for example, the median degree of separtaion is 6. On Twitter, Kwak et al. hypothesized that because only 22.1% of links are reciprocal (that is, I follow you, and you follow me as well) the number of degrees separating users would be longer. In fact, the average path length on Twitter is 4.12.

What’s more, because 94% of the users on Twitter are fewer than five degrees of separation from one another, it’s likely that the distance between any random Joe or Jane and say, Bill Gates, is even shorter on Twitter than in real life.

May 1, 2010

Facebook and privacy

The huge social networking site (and new heavyweight champs of the internet for the foreseeable future) has an absolutely terrible record regarding privacy.

This post from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation posits that the right to privacy isn’t a right to Facebook. I completely agree. Facebook doesn’t charge its millions (and millions) of users in exchange for very heavy, and increasing, levels of data mining. The post also laments the current threat of Congressional action in reaction to Facebook’s latest pubic statements and actions against user privacy. Another great point

This bit from the link is correct:

Certainly some users may still object to this tradeoff. But if you don’t like it, don’t use it. Facebook is neither a right nor a necessity. Moreover, it is a free tool that individuals can use in exchange for online advertising. In fact, one high-profile Facebook user, the German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner, has already threatened to close down her Facebook profile in protest of Facebook’s new privacy policies. Users that feel this way about Facebook’s changes should vote with their mouse and click their way to greener pastures. Companies respond to market forces and consumer demands, and if enough users object to the privacy policy of Facebook, these individuals should be able to find a start-up willing to provide a privacy-rich social networking experience.

But this second point actually perfectly illustrates where Facebook has the wrong approach toward user privacy, both from a business standpoint and personal protection standpoint:

Even Facebook responds to public opinion and consumer pressure. In December, Facebook modified its privacy settings so that certain information including friends list, gender, city, and profile photo, would be public information. In response to complaints from some users, Facebook modified its interface to give users more control over the privacy of different types of information. Neither was this the first time that Facebook revised its policies in response to consumer behavior. In 2006, Facebook altered its policy regarding its “news feed” feature that updates users about their friends’ activities.

The problem here is Facebook has repeatedly and arbitrarily taken actions that once exposed managed to royally piss off its user base to the point it had to immediately backtrack and change the changes. Do that once and its an example of a young company going through growing pains. Do it repeatedly and those actions are just those of a very bad corporate actor consistently pushing as hard as it can with zero regard for its user base. And that user base is all Facebook has going for it. It is massive and not going away overnight, but pressed hard enough and over enough events, and that user base could very well could disappear. It would probably take a defection of its growing middle-aged and up contingent, but Facebook would be very foolhardy to think it couldn’t happen.

April 20, 2010

Twitter and advertising

Yep, they’re going there.

I may not completely enjoy the experience, but it’s an overdue move.

From the link:

Twitter is finally taking off the training wheels and moving into the world where real businesses tread with the launch today of its first advertising model .

The microblogging phenomenon has long avoided coming up with a business plan or even talking about one. Just last October, Twitter CEO Evan Williams told an audience at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco that the company wanted to focus on developing the site , instead of on a business model.

But the time has come for Twitter to figure out how to make money over the long haul.

It’s a decision that makes the company look less like a grand hobby and more like an actual business , said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group.

But, will the masses revolt?

From the link:

Now that Twitter has begun to display ads–pardon me, Promoted Tweets–in users’ search results, the big question is how millions of loyal Twitter fans will respond. Reaction on the micro-blogging site has been muted thus far–more questions than commentary, actually–and it’s apparent that most users haven’t seen the new ads yet.

According to a blog post by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, the ad program will be rolled out gradually, with Promoted Tweets (such as the Starbucks (SBUX) example below) appearing atop some Twitter.com search result pages.

Of course, the very idea of product-pitching tweets won’t sit well with a good number of Twitter users, who’ve grown accustomed to the ad-free (and unprofitable) service.

March 18, 2010

Hookers and social media

This blog hasn’t been shying away from the controversial the last couple of days, so why not a bit on prostitution and web 2.0

From the link:

“Over the past decade, the Internet has become an increasingly important vehicle for sharing information about prostitution,” say Luis Rocha at Umea University in Sweden and a couple of buddies. That makes it possible to study the network of links between buyers and sellers at a level of detail that has never been possible before. Today, Rocha and co reveal the results one such study of prostitute-related activity in Brazil.

The community they look at is a public online forum with free registration, financed by advertisements, in which men grade and categorise their sexual encounters with female escorts. The community appears large with over 10,000 buyers and more than 6000 sellers all of whom use anonymous nicknames. The study covers a period of 6 years from when the community was set up in 2002 until 2008.

February 20, 2010

Google Buzz and privacy

I haven’t blogged about Google Buzz, but I have done some tweeting and expressed privacy concerns about the social media add-on to Gmail. Looks like I’m not the only Gmail user out there with privacy issues surrounding Buzz.

From the last (third) link:

Google (GOOG) Buzz has barely entered its second week of operation, and the new social network continues to be dogged by privacy issues. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said late Tuesday it is looking into privacy concerns surrounding Buzz, according to Canada’s CBC News. This announcement comes on the heels of the news the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed a privacy complaint over Google Buzz with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

And:

While Google continues to work with Canadian officials, the search giant may have to contend with an FTC investigation into Buzz’s treatment of user privacy. In a complaint filed on Tuesday with the FTC, EPIC says that “emails and associated information [are] fundamentally private,” and that “email service providers have a particular responsibility to safeguard the personal information that subscribers provide.”

February 19, 2010

The dangers of social networking

All those web 2.0 tools — blogging, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (well, maybe not anymore), LinkedIn, Google Buzz (the new kid on the block), et.al. — are fun and somewhat addictive, but there are serious privacy dangers lurking in all that sharing.

Dangers as obvious as putting plenty of data out there for cybercriminals to harvest for phishing attempts and identity theft, not quite as obvious danger in putting discrete bits of corporate information out there in multiple locations that put together become useful to competitors, and even dangers as vanilla as broadcasting when you are home and not for local criminals seriously casing your home for a break-in.

That ought to be food for social networking thought.

From the link:

Pervasive social networking may herald the future’s most critical insider threat: cyber-chattiness.Individuals are simply revealing too much about their professional lives online. It might be possible, for example, to cross reference a Facebook post about a “big project that isn’t looking good” with other posts and piece together sensitive corporate information. And while a LinkedIn request for a job recommendation reveals a job seeker, two or more seekers in the same division could reveal company upheaval.

The threat from chatty insiders isn’t new, but a perfect storm might be brewing. Consider the following:

– People are broadcasting more of their lives online than ever before. More than 55 million status updates are posted every day on Facebook alone.

– A new batch of “Open Source Intelligence” tools now exist to help map out people’s lives and relationships.

– Lots of personal and business data online makes it easy for a hacker to personalize phishing attacks and in some cases, automate the personalization process. Tools and frameworks now exist to gather enough information about you online to custom craft emails that are very credible.

– Setting policies to stop employees from using these social networking sites at work doesn’t stop them from talking about work when online at home.

We are now starting to see some privacy stretch marks on the social networking bubble. Consider the case of Robert Morgan. Earlier this year Robert, a researcher at Microsoft (MSFT), updated his LinkedIn profile with details about his work on Windows 8 and its new 128-bit architecture. The problem was that Microsoft had never disclosed it was working on a 128-bit version of Windows (let alone working on Windows 8 or 9). This was a direct disclosure snafu made worse by the fact that anyone with an Internet connection could see it.

February 9, 2010

Gmail 2.0

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:25 pm

As in it looks like Gmail is about to go web 2.0 on us. To me this just seems like blurring the role of Gmail. Sometimes there is such a thing as too much functionality.

Via KurzweilAI.net:

Google’s ‘Social’ Gmail: Could It Really Work?
PC World, Feb. 8, 2010

Google‘s social networking component for Gmail will reportedly aggregate updates from friends into single tweet-like status updates.
Read Original Article>>

February 2, 2010

Protecting your online reputation

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:52 pm

Easier said than done if someone is hell-bent on trashing you. CIO.com ran two articles today on online reputation — the first covers the how-to in protecting yourself online and the second lists five tools to use to help track what’s being said about you and where it’s being said. With the current plethora of web 2.0 applications out there — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, YouTube, and many more — there’s a lot of online real estate to cover when searching for mentions of yourself or your company.

From the first link:

As social sites with user-generated content such as Facebook, Twitter and WordPress continue to grow in popularity, and with Google’s announcement of real-time search, you must be aware of and manage your online reputation carefully now. “Social media has made our lives very transparent,” Laratro says. “If you maintain a professional persona, this can be something positive, but if you’re unaware of comments or pictures online that that you wouldn’t even want your mother to see, it can be terrible.”

Several free tools can help you keep tabs on what’s being said about you online. One of the most popular tools is a Google Alert for your name, which will automatically inform you when you’re referenced on a website.

January 7, 2010

Twitter looks to be settling in for the long haul

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:12 pm

This is a great quote from this NYT article:

“The history of the Internet suggests that there have been cool Web sites that go in and out of fashion and then there have been open standards that become plumbing,” said Steven Johnson, the author and technology observer who wrote a seminal piece about Twitter for Time last June. “Twitter is looking more and more like plumbing, and plumbing is eternal.”

Around a year ago Twitter really started heating up for a solid year of hype and headlines, a make-or-break condition for most emerging technology. And now that it’s 2010? Twitter still looks strong. Still no actual business model to speak of, and no real money aside from venture funds, but the service itself is rolling along very nicely and has found niches all over the cultural and political map.

Here’s another informative excerpt from the link:

At first, Twitter can be overwhelming, but think of it as a river of data rushing past that I dip a cup into every once in a while. Much of what I need to know is in that cup: if it looks like Apple is going to demo its new tablet, or Amazon sold more Kindles than actual books at Christmas, or the final vote in the Senate gets locked in on health care, I almost always learn about it first on Twitter.

The expressive limits of a kind of narrative developed from text messages, with less space to digress or explain than this sentence, has significant upsides. The best people on Twitter communicate with economy and precision, with each element — links, hash tags and comments — freighted with meaning. Professional acquaintances whom I find insufferable on every other platform suddenly become interesting within the confines of Twitter.

December 8, 2009

Google goes real-time …

… by adding Twitter and Friendfeed to search results, plus making updates in seconds rather than minutes.

From the link:

It seems that Google’s recent deal with Twitter is already bearing fruit. Today, Google announced that in response to English searches it will now return a “latest results” section that will include posts from Twitter and Friendfeed, along with seconds-old headlines from newspapers and blogs.

It’ll be interesting to see how well this content will supplement Google’s regular results, which change at a much slower pace. There isn’t much room in a 140-character Twitter post to provide the context that search engines typically use to judge relevancy.

October 31, 2009

Public relations and web 2.0

The rules have forever changed.

The release:

Social media require ‘Community Relations 2.0’

Boston College researchers find real-time advocacy challenges long-standing corporate practices

Chestnut Hill, Mass. (October 30, 2009) — The rise of social media and real-time advocacy have re-written the community outreach rules companies followed for decades. But many American firms are dragging their feet as they approach “Community Relations 2.0,” Boston College researchers report in the November issue of Harvard Business Review.

Gone are the days when controversial projects were rolled out strictly along the corporate timeline. A worker’s blog rant unveiled major problems with a multi-billion dollar Kaiser Permanente IT initiative, putting the company in the spotlight and on the defensive.

Today, a disgruntled customer can take the world stage, as did a frustrated cable subscriber who videotaped a Comcast repairman snoozing on the couch and broadcast the now infamous nap across the world via the Internet.

Social media such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube, as well as tens of thousands of blogs and wikis have exponentially increased the speed of formation of these communities and magnified their impact and reach, report Carroll School of Management professors Gerald C. Kane, Robert G. Fichman and John Gallaugher and co-author John Glaser, the CIO of Partners HealthCare.

“These new social media tools let people organize extremely quickly around any issue or event that inspires them,” said co-author Kane, an assistant professor of information systems at BC. “Within hours, these virtual communities can grow to hundreds of thousands, potentially reaching millions more in short order. Companies and organizations caught unprepared can find themselves in a media firestorm, just ask companies like Domino’s Pizza, Amazon.com, Comcast, and many others have.”

These online communities form quickly, according to the researchers, and can disperse just as fast. They’re leadership can change often. Yet mobile platforms – from cell phones to PDAs to laptops – keep members on the alert, ready to push the agenda or spring into action. These communities vary widely in purpose, membership and tone – from friendly and collaborative to openly hostile. The same tools have also played central roles in recent international events, such as the 2008 Mumbai Terror Attacks and the 2009 Iranian election protests.

But for companies in this brave new Community Relations 2.0 world, executives must know that these real-time communities differ from their online predecessors – such as listservs and message boards – in critical ways, namely:

  • Deep relationships form quickly online and information can be dispersed without delay.
  • Rapid organization allows these communities to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people in a few hours.
  • Knowledge creation and synthesis take place in a far more deliberate fashion.
  • Information filtering tools like search, ratings and keywords allow people to identify information that is important to them and then act accordingly.

     

Companies need to understand these new social media – their benefits as well as their risks – and devote strategic resources to engage these communities in genuine discussions. For example, many physicians from Partners HealthCare are active on Sermo, an independently operated network for physicians, and more than 3,500 employees have joined an informal and unofficial Partners community on Facebook. Many patients belong to the social network PatientsLikeMe. For Partners, these online communities represent strategic opportunities to interact with stakeholders on issues of common interest.

“Whether or not managers, leaders, or politicians even know the difference between Wikipedia, Facebook, or Twitter, they need to begin learning how to monitor and respond quickly to trends in these social media communities,” Kane said. “Doing so, they may not only prevent the spread of damaging information, but they may also find valuable partners in their organization’s mission. Companies like Dell, Starbucks and Kaiser-Permanente have moved beyond purely reactive strategies to proactively reach out to customers as an important resource for customer service, marketing, and new product development.”

October 21, 2009

Big Brother puts money and eyeballs into web 2.0

Via KurzweilAI.net — Something to think about before you go masquerading as an international terrorist again …

U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets

Wired Danger Room, Oct. 19, 2009

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the widerintelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media, part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using open-sourceintelligence.

Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon.

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October 13, 2009

Web 2.0 and privacy

As it turns out — not, surprisingly I might add — not so much.

The release:

Looking for privacy in the clouds

DURHAM, N.C. — Millions of Internet users have been enjoying the fun — and free — services provided by advertiser-supported online social networks like Facebook. But Landon Cox, a Duke University assistant professor of computer science, worries about the possible down side — privacy problems.

When people post pictures or political opinions to share with their friends, they’re actually turning them over to the owners of the network as well.

“My concern is that they’re under the control of a central entity,” Cox said. “The social networks currently control all the information that users throw into them. I don’t think that’s necessarily evil. But it raises some concerns.”

For instance, MIT student experimenters have demonstrated the ability to sneak in and download more than 70,000 Facebook profiles. And a BBC technology program also showed how such personal information could be stolen.

“A disgruntled employee could leak information about social network users,” Cox said. “They could also become attractive targets for hackers and other computer ne’er-do-wells.”

Though users may not have caught this when they clicked to accept a site’s terms of service, they’ve largely signed away the rights to their own data by joining an Online Social Network. “These rights commonly include a license to display and distribute all content posted by users in any way the provider sees fit,” Cox said.

To delve deeper into these issues and begin the search for alternatives, Cox recently won a $498,000, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The funding is part of the federal stimulus package called the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). He and two of his graduate students, Amre Shakimov and Dongtao Liu, are collaborating closely with Ramon Caceres at AT&T Labs in Florham Park, N.J., which is also a major supporter.

“What the grant will do is fund research into alternatives for providing social networking services that don’t concentrate all this information in a single place,” he said. Cox’s notion is instead to create what network architects would call a “peer-to-peer” system architecture in which information is spread out. Being distributed, individual data is thus harder to steal or otherwise exploit.

“The basic idea is that users would control and store their own information and then share it directly with their friends instead of it being mediated through a site like Facebook. And there are some interesting challenges that go along with decomposing something like Facebook into a peer-to-peer system.

“Facebook is a great service because it’s highly available and really fast. When you break something into thousands and millions of different pieces instead, you’d want to try to recreate the same availability and performance. That’s the research challenge we’re going to be looking at over the next three years.”

Cox proposed three possible options in a report for the Association for Computing Machinery’s Workshop for Online Social Networks in Barcelona in August 2009. In each, users would load their personal information into what is called a “Virtual Individual Server,” or VIS.

One option would host each social network user’s VIS on his or her own desktop. “But the problem with desktop machines is that they go down all the time,” Cox said. “When desktops are shut off they are not available.”

An alternative idea is to distribute VISs within redundant “clouds” of servers such as those offered by the Amazon Elastic Computer Cloud. “Amazon will run little computers on your behalf out in their infrastructure,” Cox said. “The nice thing about that is the service will never go down. But the problem is that it’s very expensive. It costs about $50 a month to have just one server out in the cloud.”

A third notion is called “hybrid decentralization.” The idea is to keep VISs on desktops when possible but switch to the more costly and reliable cloud distribution option when individual desktops go offline.

“So there are these different tradeoffs,” Cox said. “Users can try to put their information in clouds of servers, which are going to be highly available but expensive. Or they could try to store it on their own machines, which would be cheap but subject to service interruptions.”

Under his NSF stimulus grant, Cox will be able to pay Shakimov and Liu for three years and fund some of his own work to explore those options. Other AT&T Labs research participants besides Caceres are Alexander Varshavsky and Kevin Li. Amazon is also providing equipment support.

“The research will point in a couple of directions,” he said. “Can we get a desktop machine to intelligently switch over to a cloud? Can we reduce the cost by only using a cloud when the desktop is not available?”

Or perhaps the same information can be put in a number of places in the hope that at least one of those computers is always working. “So in addition to serving my own stuff I might ask my friends to serve my stuff as well,” Cox said.

“The problem there is that now you’re trusting somebody else to serve and store your data. We have some interesting challenges ahead.”

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October 8, 2009

Hey bloggers, new FTC rules coming down the pipe

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:16 am

That group includes yours truly. The Federal Trade Commission is coming down on undisclosed paid web 2.0 content including blogging and social networking on December 1.

I do a little paid blogging, plus I tack web 2.0 exposure onto most of my PR and MR work. I don’t have a current disclosure policy — it’s pretty much chance that something gets disclosed, or not — and I’m certainly not going out of my way to hide anything. My guess is most posts that shill for something are pretty obvious whether I overtly disclose, or not, that fact.

I also  bet a lot of enthusiastic blogging I do on subjects that really grab me might even come off as shilling. For the record almost all press releases I post are posted purely with the intent of widely spreading information I find personally interesting.

At the end of the day I’m not too certain how the FTC can even seriously patrol this “issue.”

From the link:

As of December 1, the Federal Trade Commission is going to require bloggers, and prominent tweeters and Facebook types to disclose any paid endorsementsto their followers, online friends and readers. These new rules have the potential to change everyone’s online habits. Here’s what you need to know:

October 7, 2009

Google to encourage third party applications for Google Wave

Time will tell if Google Wave is a lot of hype, or the real thing. It does look like Google’s making a serious push to grab an entire new branch of online communication.

From the link:

The Web search giant is hoping that software developers far and wide will create tools that work in conjunction with Wave, making an already multifaceted service even more useful. Google (GOOG) is even likely to let programmers sell their applications through an online bazaar akin to Apple’s App Store, the online marketplace for games and other applications designed for the iPhone. “We’ll almost certainly build a store,” Lars Rasmussen, the Google software engineering manager who directs the 60-person team in Sydney, Australia, that created Wave, told BusinessWeek.com. “So many developers have asked us to build a marketplace—and we might do a revenue-sharing arrangement.”

Combining instant messaging, e-mail, and real-time collaboration, Wave is an early form of so-called real-time communication designed to make it easier for people to work together or interact socially over the Internet. Google started letting developers tinker with Wave at midyear and then introduced the tool on a trial basis to about 100,000 invited users starting on Sept. 30. Invitations were such a hot commodity that they were being sold on eBay (EBAY). For Google the hope is that Wave, once it’s more widely available, will replace competing communications services such as e-mail, instant messaging, and possibly even social networks such as Facebook.

October 6, 2009

Google Wave news

The beta-test review copies of Google Wave dropped today (and, no I didn’t get an invite). Here’s two very early reports from CIO.com on what may end up being an actual paradigm shift in web communication.

First up is five reasons to use Wave.

From the link, here’s reason number three:

3.     Real-time Sharing and Collaboration. Arguably the most compelling aspect of Google Wave is the real-time collaboration functionality. Wave participants can comment inline and the statements are accompanied by the user’s avatar and a timestamp allowing you to easily identify who said what, when. Users can see text appear in the wave as it is being typed- even as they typo and backspace to correct the text. Wave participants can view and edit the same content at the same time-collaborating in real-time. Even cooler is the Playback function which allows new participants who just joined the wave to play the wave stream back post by post. They can add comments and edit text as they go through the stream and get caught up on their own schedule so they can join the real-time conversation.

And next is how Wave fits into the web 2.0 world of social networking and how it’s going to affect Twitter and Facebook.

From the link:

Google Inc. today released a review copy of its upcoming Google Wave collaboration and communication tool to about 100,000 users and developers. The Web-based application is designed to consolidate features from e-mail, instant messaging, blogging, wikis, multimedia management and document sharing, while offering a variety of social networking features.

Click here to find out more!

Analysts call Google Wave the latest, and possibly the most comprehensive, entrant into a burgeoning social networking business that is still largely made up of hot newcomers that have made a strong name for themselves, but are still far from profitable .

Thus Google, with its marketing clout and hip name , may have a good shot at disrupting the likes of Facebook and Twitter, noted Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group.

“This represents a displacement threat for everybody,” Enderle said. “Everybody in this space — Twitter, Facebook and MySpace — is nervous at the moment. If they’re not nervous, then they’re missing the memo. The market hasn’t settled and when it’s not settled, then something like Wave could come in and make headway.”

Facebook and MySpace declined comment on Google Wave. Twitter couldn’t be reached.

September 2, 2009

The adults are now running the web 2.0 asylum

Filed under: Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:04 pm

In news that isn’t all that surprising at this point, but would have been a jaw-dropper as recently as three, or so, years ago, over 34s dominate social networking websites. Web 2.0 has come a long ways from the heyday of MySpace.

From the link:

Companies can begin to target people over the age of 34 with media campaigns that leverage social networks as that age group has become the largest segment using Facebook, Twitter and other social media, a new study from Forrester Research claims.

While people in their teens and 20s were the first to adopt social networks for everyday use, they aren’t just for the younger crowd anymore, according to the report, “The Broad Reach of Social Networks,” by Forrester analyst Sean Corcoran. The report is based on a May 2009 survey of 4,455 people between the ages of 18 and 88 in the U.S.

“Much of the growth in social networks today comes from people older than 34,” he wrote. Compared with last year, adults over the age of 34 increased their participation in social networks by more than 60 percent. “Now more than half of adults ages 35 to 44 are in social networks,” Corcoran wrote.

Click here to find out more!

People in their 40s and 50s still lag behind this age group in participation, but they, too, are beginning to use social networks more than in the past, the study found. And even adults 55 and older are starting to share and connect more online, Corcoran wrote.

“Seventy percent of online adults ages 55 and older tell us they tap social tools at least once a month; 26 percent use social networks and 12 percent create social content,” he wrote. “As a result, social applications geared toward older adults will now reach a healthy chunk of their audience.”

And here’s an interesting psychographic breakdown of social networkers:

Corcoran categorizes people who use social networks as “creators,” or people who write blogs and upload audio and video or post stories on social networks; “critics,” those who take part in online discussions; “collectors,” or people who organize online content by using RSS feeds and sites like “Digg” to rate content; “joiners,” or people who actually subscribe to social networks; and “spectators,” those who view user-generated content online.

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