Friday, December 14, 2007

Platform Wars

Although it might seem to be of interest only to technical geeks, something important happened in cyberspace this week.
The news slipped out in a press release and in the Facebook Developers Blog.
"Bebo, the global Social Media Network, today (12.12.07) announced that it has launched its Open Application Platform, opening its API to third party developers to integrate their applications with the Bebo site."
Furthermore
"The Bebo Open Application Platform will be the first in the industry to implement the standards defined by the Facebook Platform, an open development system that enables companies and engineers to extend Facebook's more than 7,000 applications to other social websites."
In plain English, this means that Bebo has opened up its platform to third party developers and at the same time has made it the same as the Facebook platform; which could lead to the Facebook platform becoming the dominant platform while hindering Google's plans for Opensocial.

At a time when Facebook has been struggling to overcome a few problems related to advertising issues this is a clever move.
Facebook are sharing, but by sharing have moved into a position of control.

Here's Facebook's explanation
"Now we also want to share the benefits of our work by enabling other social sites to use our platform architecture as a model. In fact, we’ll even license the Facebook Platform methods and tags to other platforms. Of course, Facebook Platform will continue to evolve, but by enabling other social sites to use what we’ve learned, everyone wins -- users get a better experience around the web, developers get access to new audiences, and social sites get more applications."
Hmm.
How many users does Facebook have?
How many users does Bebo have?

In the developing battle of platforms, there are two contenders, Facebook and Google but Facebook is taking charge.

They both want a share of the action.
They both want to share.
I wonder will they share with one another?

Remember betamax?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

On Facebook Beacon, Zuckerberg and the Panopticon

It won't be long before anyone interested in Facebook reads or hears of this post from Mark Zuckerberg on the Facebook blog.

He has come to see the damage sustained by Facebook through the introduction of Beacon and reflects on the uneasiness felt by current and prospective Facebook users.

And bites the bullet,
"About a month ago, we released a new feature called Beacon to try to help people share information with their friends about things they do on the web. We've made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we've made even more with how we've handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it."
I know little about the workings of business, but I do know that when something goes wrong it needs to be fixed quickly. When Zuckerberg and Facebook realised that Beacon was flawed they found themselves unable to react. In the panoptic glare of the world's social and media networks they responded far too slowly to the ever increasing criticism.
He knows that now.
"Instead of acting quickly, we took too long to decide on the right solution. I'm not proud of the way we've handled this situation and I know we can do better."
As a result Beacon has changed, last week it became an opt-in system; this week users can turn it off completely.

"If you select that you don't want to share some Beacon actions or if you turn off Beacon, then Facebook won't store those actions even when partners send them to Facebook"

Hmmm.

In Bentham's Panopticon, the warders looked outwards, at inmates who never knew whether or not they were observed. Control came from the centre.

In Zuckerberg's Facebook, the users have realised they are being observed and have started looking inwards.

Who has control now?

Facebook, it's users or it's partners?

Monday, November 19, 2007

On Facebook Fridays

Through reading Tony Karrer's blog eLearning Technology, I've come across this article about the use of Facebook within a company.

It describes how a company called Serena Software has "Facebook Fridays"

The paragraphs highlighted by Tony are worth noting.

"Each Friday, employees are granted one hour of personal time to spend on their Facebook profiles and connect with co-workers, customers, family and friends."

“Social networking tools like Facebook can bring us back together, help us get to know each other as people, help us understand our business and our products, and help us better serve our customers-on demand. A corporate culture that fosters a sense of community and fun will ultimately help us get more done. Companies that do not embrace social networking are making a huge mistake.”
Despite my enthusiasm for Web 2.0 I'm really not sure about this use of social networking.

It's Friday, so you will network, you will use Facebook, you will connect with one another and our customers.
  • What happens for the rest of the week?
  • What if I don't want to mix home and work?
  • What if I don't want to update my Facebook profile?
  • What if I don't want a Facebook profile?
  • What if I want a private life?
This initiative just doesn't seem right.
You will be "friends" because the CEO says so seems doomed to failure.
It's not team building, it's not creating a sense of community, it's not embracing social networking it's imposing it.

That's not how the world works

Friday, November 16, 2007

On Competition for Facebook?

I came across a post on the Allen Stern's CenterNetwork, in which he points to Matthew Buckland in South Africa, where earlier in the week Jimmy Wales made an interesting presentation.

This presentation has added fuel to blogosphere speculation that Jimmy Wales and his "wikia" organisation just might be preparing to take on Facebook and Google.

We shall have to wait and see.

Here are some facts about Wikipedia, highlighted by Wales in his talk.

  • "Wales said that by the end of 2007 there were now more than 2-million Wikipedia articles in english, but that this is less than 1/3 of the wikipedia content.
  • German and French are two big growing languages with more than 500,000 articles each.
  • Wikipedia spent around US$1-millon last year, and will spend about $2,3-million this year. Most of this comes from small donations and is a tiny amount of money if you think of the influence Wikipedia has on the world.
  • Wales says that according to Alexa, Wikipedia is now the 8th most popular website in the world.
  • Even in countries like Iran, Wikipedia is the 14th most popular site.
  • Despite Wikipedia being one of the world’s top ten biggest websites, it only has 10 fulltime positions, with most of the work done by volunteers all around the world."


As you think about those facts, watch anonymous editors at work at Wikipedia on this interesting mashup / visualisation.

The wisdom of the crowd in action!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Facebook Pages

I've been exploring Facebook and have come across an interesting development.
The search bar has acquired a new box, (which appears for some searches but not all).

Let me demonstrate; a search for Cardiff produces the following results :-

a box for people,
a box for groups,
a box for events,
a box for applications

and a new box for pages!

Explore the pages and you will find an interesting link to the Cardiff University Facebook page.
This page invites visitors to add Cardiff Uni to their organisations, and offers quick links to all of the major pages at the University Web site, including the research pages.

A quick scan of the help files explains that Facebook Pages are special.
(Curious readers should explore the help files at Facebook, where a mass of information about the new Facebook features may be found)
A musical artist, business, or brand can create Facebook Pages to share information, interact with their fans, and create a highly engaging presence plugged into Facebook’s social graph. These Pages are distinct presences, separate from users’ profiles, and optimized for these entities’ needs to communicate, distribute information/content, engage their fans, and capture new audiences virally through their fans’ recommendations to their friends. Facebook Pages are designed to be a media rich, valuable presence solution for any artist, business, or brand that can be integrated seamlessly into the user experience with socially-relevant applications.
Right now at the time of writing Cardiff University has eight fans!

I think that Cardiff University is the first Welsh University to utilise the world of Facebook pages, kudos to the Cardiff Marketing or Web Development team for being quick off the mark.

Disclaimer,
As an ex student of Cardiff University, I'm going to become its ninth fan, (in the interests of research).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

On Truth, Google Ranking and a Meme.

As a result of thinking about the "This is the Truth" experiment on The Science Creative Quarterly, David Ng at World's Fair has made a suggestion for a new meme, to be known as the "I rank number one on google" meme!"

He says
"the premise is that you will attempt to find 5 statements, which if you were to type into google (preferably google.com, but we'll take the other country specific ones if need be), you'll find that you are returned with your blog as the number one hit."
This is an interesting meme, the results of which reveal a little about how google works and a little about individual blogs.

A little effort, patience and exploring with google.com produced the following number one hits for "On A Hill"
  • "on the playing of violins"
  • gradatim ferociter
  • bonk and flying fish
  • burnt pyjama story
  • facebook students and porn
You can find it all On the Hill!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Social Media Starfish



Robert Scoble created the Social Media starfish, Darren Barefoot improved on it.

It covers most of the social bases, but is already out of date.

By the time some of us adopt an application the rest of the world has moved on.
By the time established institutions adopt an application the rest of the world has moved on.

How are we to keep up?

Friday, November 09, 2007

On the Facebook News Network!

Enjoy. !!

via fimoculous

On Facebook, Advertising and Digital Clutter

If you believe the hype (and I don't) the world changed on November 6th.
Mark Zucherberg founder of Facebook made the announcement that had been expected for a long long time.

Facebook is moving into advertising.
He said
“Once every hundred years media changes. the last hundred years have been defined by the mass media. The way to advertise was to get into the mass media and push out your content. That was the last hundred years. In the next hundred years information won’t be just pushed out to people, it will be shared among the millions of connections people have. Advertising will change. You will need to get into these connections."
and I still don't get it.

Facebook Ads will have three components.

Social Ads ie personalised ads informed by member profile data,
(I guess its time to play with my profile)

Beacon (Ads) which will allow members of Facebook to announce to their friends that they are fans of a particular brand via their feeds.
(Now we shall discover who our real friends are!)

Insight which will provide advertisers with marketing data from within Facebook, ie social demographic information.

Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch was there, live blogging the event.
Here are his immediate thoughts
"This could be huge if done right, but it could also backfire badly for Facebook. If I start to think that my friends are advertising to me, I may no longer trust them (and, in fact, try to avoid them . .. by not logging into Facebook anymore). So the the trick is to make these appear to be genuine recommendations, and not ads. I am not sure how many people will be fooled by this, though. It risks turning something useful—the feed of my friends’ activities—into something spammy."
How true is that?

Much as I like my Facebook friends, I'm honestly not sure that they would consider their feeds useful. I don't.
I certainly don't want to start receiving advertising recommendations from them. I have enough digital clutter already. It's bad enough that I know when my friends are cooking, thinking or breathing.

Everyone, yes everyone should visit Nicholas Carr and read his thoughts on the "Social Graft"

I guess that anyone who still believed that Facebook had a future as a PLE, a VLE or as the next platform might be having second thoughts.

I hope so.

:-)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

On Surprises

Now here's a surprise.

It has been widely reported that .....
"Costly literacy schemes in England have not paid off, with children's reading skills barely improved since the 1950s, an independent inquiry suggests."
I could have told you that, as could any serving primary school teacher who was teaching before and during the introduction of the National Curriculum.
It's good that in Wales, in theory things are a little different.

You can read the same story; here at it's source, from the BBC and Reuters, in the Times and the TES, at the Guardian and at the Daily Mail.

It's worth reading them all just to see how the press deals with the report.

As might be expected Government spokesmen disagree with the findings.

On the End of the Week

It's been a busy week. I'm a little ashamed to say that I've neglected the blog. it's good to be back.

My trip to Dundee for the HEA Web 2.0 Day took three perhaps four days out of my work schedule; which has not been helped by it being half term. I had a good time North of the border and met several researchers working in my field who were interested in our work. It was good to be able to compare notes and experiences. My talk was surprisingly well received which leads me to think that I should work harder.

During the last month the hit counter has shown some interesting trends. I'm getting more and more visitors in search of information about deleting Facebook, a surprising number of hits in search of Facebook porn while the endless search for "gradatim ferociter" continues. Additionally the number of visitors visiting more than one page On a Hill has increased significantly. It's also worth noting that one visitor arrived On the Hill from Afganistan, via a microwave link; it seems that even in Kabul worries about Facebook led one Googler to The Hill!

The high spot of the week just has to be the arrival of my Macbook Pro.
I've spent far too much of the day loading Leopard, Microsoft Office:Mac and Firefox. Transferring information and data between two machines has led to me to consider the problems created by reading blog feeds on two computers. Much as I love sage (for Firefox) it may be that Google Reader will become my feed reader of necessity.

The problem now is what's to be done with my Macbook ............
Decisions, decisions!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

We are in Your Games

It's been reported here and here, that
"A British intelligence agency has targeted a new generation of recruits by advertising in computer games."
Adverts featuring the GCHQ website are to be found in a number of XBox 360 games, in the hope of capturing "the imagination of people with a particular interest in IT"
I knew all those hours spent playing Quake (in my youth) would come in handy.
It's an excellent idea though I'm not sure that all gamers are "tech savy".
But then what do I know?
It could well be that an ability to take on the Strogg could be an assett at GCHQ.

The news generated by the story took me to the GCHQ website (via the BBC), where you can find out what they do, look at job vacancies, crack some codes and explore their press releases. I liked the site. It's good looking with obvious navigation, loads of information and a few recruitment videos. There are jobs for technologists, mathematicians, linguists etc.

It was interesting to read the press release about their successful Universities Day part of their educational outreach programme. University language and careers departments were invited to GCHQ to learn about employment opportunities.
A good example of links between "business" and academia.

The home page carries a quote from a former prime minister.
"Secret intelligence gives the Government a vital edge."

Let's hope they use it carefully.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Problems with Facebook

Harriet Swain has a long and interesting article in today's Independent about social networking sites and their position in Higher Education.

There's very little I might want to add to the article, except to say "I told you"

This paragraph in particular caught my eye.
"Facebook owns the material on the site, including teaching notes and, potentially, research, says Lawrie Phipps, manager of the users and innovation programme at JISC. He has already advised a couple of research groups to take research notes off a site. While there are plenty of new technologies that lecturers can use in teaching, such as discussion groups, wikis, or Second Life, social networking is not one of them, he says, unless it's restricted to an institution's virtual-learning environment. "I'm on Facebook and I have a laugh with friends," he says. "But, if it comes to academic work on Facebook, it's totally inappropriate.""
Read that final sentence again,

"But, if it comes to academic work on Facebook, it's totally inappropriate."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What Comes Round

Mmmmm.

It appears that some other commentators are beginning to question the usefulness of facebook.

Kevin Anderson pulls together some of the Web conversations about facebook on the Guardian PDA.

Does Facebook live up to the media hype?
I don't think it does, in fact I never really believed that it did.
It's certainly never going going to become a viable alternative to a VLE.

Despite many people's claims about the future of operating systems based on social networking, we would do well to remember this sentence
"Facebook is on the internet, it is not the internet"

Monday, October 15, 2007

On Spam, Google, Curt Bonk and Flying Fish

It's been said that I spend too much time on the Net, so to save time I've been trying out Google Alerts.
Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. Some handy uses of Google Alerts include: * monitoring a developing news story * keeping current on a competitor or industry * getting the latest on a celebrity or event * keeping tabs on your favorite sports teams
I have a few alerts running, one of which is for the "University of Glamorgan".
To be honest the responses I get for this query are fairly mundane and repetitive but on October 12th. I was intrigued to notice a message which included the following text.
UK E-Learning Reflections: UK leads the way or does it?
Monday the 15th was spent in Wales with a presentation to teachers of the future of ICT and schools at the University of Glamorgan ......
What caught my eye in this instance, is that I was there, I heard the presentation and after the event read the speaker's blog and therefore recognised the posting. (It's true I spend oo much time on the Net)

The speaker was Curt Bonk from Indianna University, the talk took place on January 15th at the University of Glamorgan, Treforest and he blogged about it on January 20th.. The talk was memorable; the speaker threw me a stuffed fish, and the blog made for interesting reading.
Why then, should it appear in a Google alert ten months after the event?

Following the provided link I found myself reading Curt's blog entry again, but this time on an anonymous blog, made of pieces cut and pasted from the net; 23 random articles, copied without reference their original source.
Examination of the page reveals that each article has been tampered with and links to commercial sites added.

It's spam!

The problem here is that I nearly fell for it.
The spam came courtesy of Google.
Google Alerts sent me the link.

Reader beware!

PS. (added 17.10.07)
My most recent Google alert message arrived yesterday informing me that this post existed!

If I were to adjust the settings on my alerts it would be interesting to explore how long it takes for an alert to be sent.
I'm just curious.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Quids In!




What a story!




On their website Travelex say
Foreign exchange specialist Travelex today unveiled a unit of currency that has been created for use in space. It is the first currency of its kind in the universe and has been developed in partnership with a team of scientists from the National Space Centre and the University of Leicester.
I want one. They don't tell me where to get one.

I'll never get to spend it in space,
I just want one.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

On the Coming of Christmas.

Humbug!

On eMentors

Here's an interesting thing.

Oaklands College is using eMentors appointed from amongst the students to help teaching staff with "everything from laptops to interactive whiteboards.
"The scheme has helped lecturers overcome their insecurities towards information and communication technology (ICT) while empowering and engaging students."
It's a clever idea, but I would seriously want to argue that if a teacher \ lecturer can't use an interactive whiteboard they shouldn't really be using it. If an institution is using interactive whiteboards as a teaching tool, training should be provided for those that will be using them.

Remember the DFES report on the introduction of interactive whiteboards in classrooms?

Apparently the students are being trained, why not train the lecturers?

I wonder what the lecturers really think of the idea?
I wonder how much are the students paid to support their lecturers?

Sometimes I just wonder ...........

Friday, October 05, 2007

On David Cameron, Facebook and life

Earlier this week David Cameron (bless) spoke to the party faithful at Blackpool. In a well received speech he mentioned the Internet saying
"We live in an extraordinary world of change and freedom. The Internet is transforming people's lives. The website MySpace has got 130m members. If it was a country, it would be the tenth biggest country in the world. Facebook, the social networking site, 30m members.

People are using it to talk with each other and meet people. I had a look the other day. There is a network on Facebook called 'David Cameron is a hottie'. It's got 74 members. And I looked a little further and there is another network called 'Am I the only person who doesn't like David Cameron?' and it's got 379 members - I am sure there is nobody here today. But the point is a serious one."
He's so right, "the Internet is transforming people's lives" yet Cameron, his speech writers, his advisers and his party so obviously don't understand it. He describes MySpace as a website and Facebook as a social network as if they were in someway different. He has explored Facebook, or someone has shown him around, yet he made no mention finding things of interest in MySpace. Remember danah writing about American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace?

He tells us that there is a network called "David Cameron is a hottie" and another called "Am I the only person who doesn't like David Cameron?" (facebook membership required), In telling his Conference (and us) of these networks he aims to impress but fails, revealing in fact that neither he nor his advisers understand how Facebook works. The networks he describes are not networks they are groups of little importance. I find it hard to understand how belonging to a group of like minded people who think that David Cameron is a hottie might "transform my life".

Networks lie at the heart of Facebook's structure, originally based on colleges networks have expanded and are now consist of geographical regions, colleges, workplaces and High Schools. Within these networks members join groups (such as those described by Cameron) often directly related to their personal interests.

A brief glance at these groups shows that conversation here is limited. Indeed to the members it is the belonging to the group that matters. I suspect that many Facebook users place or choose groups for their profile in the same way as train spotters might sport lapel badges or a WAG might leave books scattered on a coffee table.

Observers of Mr. Cameron on the Web or at his Conference might be persuaded of his digital credentials. I am not so sure. In Prensky's terms Cameron's words tell us that he is more of a digital immigrant than a digital native.

He is of course not alone, in every workplace, every classroom, every lecture theatre, every Faculty we constantly encounter those who would have us believe that their understanding of our digitally connected world is much more advanced than our own. Their voices are often strident, loud, and convincing but we need to take care that we are not led astray. Remember the story of the Emperor's New Clothes?

There was another speech much reported at Blackpool this week, 'the quiet man spoke'. Firmly embedded in the real world, he reminded the conference that
“You cannot love your country if you do not care for its beating heart, the people who live in this country"
Whatever our personal enthusiasm for the wonders of the Internet or Web 2.0 might be, those of us who are or were teachers, need to remember that all our work must be grounded in the real world, with real students in real groups and communities.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

On death!

I came across this while hanging around in Del.icio.us.

"When will my iPod Croak? Depending on how you use (or abuse) it, we can take a guess at how long your little friend has left in this world. Curious? Type in your serial number."
iPod owners ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for you.

Steve Jobs has new toys for you

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Return of the Burnt Pyjama Story

Following the revelations of last March, it is good to read that UCAS are rising to the challenge created by plagiarised personal statements.

Next year all university admission forms will be examined using plagiarism detection software.

According to the BBC
""The new system, Copycatch, will compare every application submitted for entry next year with thousands posted on websites and 1.5 million from previous years."

If three sentences or more - 10% of the statement - appear to have been copied, the form will be passed to Ucas staff for further scrutiny.

They might then pass the case on to the individual institutions to which a student has applied for a decision on further action."
Hopefully universities will rise to the challenge and confront those guilty of fabricating their personal statements. Schools will also have to take care in the way they offer advice, and remind their pupils of the perils of copying from the Net or any other published source. Websites offering advice on how to apply to University will also need to consider what to do with their exemplar material.

On Silence

Such a sad story.

But this made me laugh.

"since she is devoted to her vow of silence it is not that easy to reason with her."

On Google Docs

Last night I used Google Docs for the first time.

Here are my first impressions.

Google Docs is an on line word processor, designed to facilitate collaborative work. In some respects it is similar to a wiki, but with many additional features.

The workspace is simple and clear, if you can word process you can use this, existing documents can be imported or you can start from scratch. The working or completed documents are stored by Google ( I know there are issues here), so accessing and working on documents is made possible anywhere with Internet access, at home, at the office, in the library in the cyber cafe.

What makes this application special, is the ability to collaborate, to work with others on the same document, at the same time or at a different time. Documents are shared via an email link in which collaborators can be offered viewing or revising rights. A revision history (cf wiki) is kept, allowing users to reference, compare or revert to earlier versions.

There is no doubt that this has enormous potential as a tool in educational settings. Imagine two users working on the same document; in the same room on two separate laptops, the revision history facility makes it possible for tutors to see who contributed what to group assessment activities, a class of students pupils can all access the same document, etc.etc.

A brief glance at the privacy settings suggests that work should be safe from prying eyes, the facility to publish documents to the web is provided offering viewing or editing rights according to the original author's wishes. A facility is also offered allowing posting directly to a blog (used for this post).

This is a special application, no wonder Microsoft and Adobe are rushing to release similar offerings.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

What if?

Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing fame has written a wonderful story for RADAR simply titled Scroogled.
"Google controls your e-mail, your videos, your calendar, your searches ...... What if it controlled your life?"
It's an excellent read.


Later I came across this and laughed, and began to wonder.
What gender is Google?

Read the proofs, read the commandments and pray!

On Creationism in the Classroom.

From the Guardian blog.

"The UK government has issued new guidelines to teachers on what to teach about creationism and intelligent design in science classes.

They are pretty explicit that creationsim and ID do not belong."


And about time.

Friday, September 28, 2007

On beards, blogging and hidden treasure

One of my regular haunts is the quite astounding daily grow-a-brain link blog, the labour of love of Hanan Levin.

Grow-a-brain has been growing since 2003 and contains links to "many thousands of unique sites vacuumed from all corners of the internet". Grow-a-brain is a classic link blog, each link introduced by a short often witty one line description.

As a bearded man my eye was caught today by this link, which exemplifies Hanan's work.

Why did George Bernard Shaw stop shaving?
(For the same reason his father did).

The link leads to another treasure of the Internet, the Futility Closet - An Idlers Miscellany, which is described by Greg Ross it's proprietor in the following terms.
"No matter how much you love your job, you can't work for 10 hours straight.

That's why there's Futility Closet — 2,100 anecdotes, epigrams, illusions and wonders; puzzles, prodigies, sublimities and horrors.

Read a few and get back to work. We'll keep finding more."
At a time when some employers are rushing to ban or prevent access to social networking sites perhaps they should take note, and remember the old saying, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On social bookmarking, networking and fans!

Nice comparative article here on Read/WriteWeb about social bookmarking sites.

As might be expected del.icio.us is streets ahead in the race and has recently undergone a bit of a make over.

Casual visitors to the site might not notice the new features as they are not obvious if all you do is visit your own bookmarks page.

An interesting feature is the networking page, bringing together the bookmarks of one's friends and colleagues. This page also shows reverse networks or those people known as fans who have listed your bookmarks (I think).

I was startled to discover that I have two!
It's a bit like being stalked.

Weird .

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On tennis and social networking.

An interesting story has appeared linking the world of sport with online social networking.
Read about it here and here. It's quite an interesting exercise to compare the two reports, one being the source for the other.
(If you have the time listen to the radio report.)

It seems that two up and coming young tennis stars have been burning the candle at both ends, playing tennis well and partying well. According to a report on radio5live, these teenagers drank, ate pizza, partied and chilled; then to compound their sins they posted photos of their leisure activities on Bebo.

In their report the BBC state
"Rice, the second-best British junior, and Broady, the national Under-18 champion, have had their funding withdrawn after they were deemed by the LTA to have breached contracts requiring them to act professionally. The LTA took the action after being alerted by the BBC to photos and confessions on the Bebo social networking website."
The interesting thing about this story is that the LTA hadn't noticed that there had been anything wrong with their behaviour; the incriminating photographs on Bebo were discovered by the BBC who must have rushed to inform the LTA, and then produced a news article.

I'm really not certain who's at fault here. There are several sides to the story.
I guess the fault could lie with
  • The tennis stars for not understanding how the privacy controls on Bebo work.
  • The tennis stars for daring to let their hair down.
  • The LTA for not watching over their young professionals more carefully.
  • The LTA for not explaining their expectations to their young players.
  • The BBC for spilling the beans ........
How long will it be before professionals in all walks of life are expected to sign contracts stating that

thou shalt not use social networking sites.
or
thou shalt not have a social life.
or
thou shalt not combine your private and public life?

Facebook must be relieved that for once its Bebo that's making the news.

On Facebook, students and porn.


While its no big deal, I noticed something interesting on my facebook home page. I was looking at the news feed showing popular posted items in the University network.

Top of the list is a link to a popular soft porn image gallery.

What can we deduce from this I wonder?

Think of the offence such a clearly visible link could cause to some.
We all know that the Internet has some pretty murky corners; after all it reflects the real world. Some members of the network think the link worthy of posting.
But in our classrooms, our lecture theatres, and computer labs we can't allow ourselves to be party to illuminating those corners for our students.

The University PLE wouldn't carry such a link.

Should Facebook be the platform through which students will access class discussion groups? I'm not sure.

On the joy of reading

I've just finished reading "The Uncommon Reader" by Alan Bennett.

On the surface this short fable describes what happens when the Queen discovers the joy of reading.

In the beautifully crafted text Bennett makes "the perfect argument for reading".
Everyone who claims that they have no time for reading should be made to read this book.

"Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting"

On Facebook Suicide and the Third Life


Emma Justice at the Times has written an interesting article describing what happens when Facebook users tire of The Book. They commit "Facebook Suicide"

As in the real world users are driven to suicide for a variety of reasons and as in the real world suicide groups exist to help users on their way. Several of the groups suggest a date when members will (or should have) exited their Facebook Life. Ironically wall posts indicate that some members realise that they have missed the boat and still have a presence in Facebook.

While I explored the Facebook suicide groups (cults), it was interesting to come across a message from Emma herself seeking cult members to help her with material for her article. Emma's request appeared exactly one month and one day before her article, which shows us how long a feature article can take to write and publish.

While exploring the suicide cults another group caught my attention. In the pessimistically named "If I died, who would change my Facebook status?" group, the material world imposes itself on virtual life. In a hearfelt wall posting Nikki Brady of Leeds summed it all up.
"i think there must be dead people all over facebook. i mean, what happens when you die? if no one knows your password, they cant log in, so you will be stuck in cyberspace forever, never changing. very strange to think about. although, what would your status say, really?

Nikki Brady
is still dead
Updated eternally"
Nicholas Carr at Rough Type pointed me in the direction of another newspaper article this time at the Guardian simply entitled "Broadband beyond the grave offers web service for the dead"
"Users of YouDeparted.com can issue posthumous instructions for everything from their funeral to feeding their pet, cancelling bills and magazine subscriptions, organising their will and other financial matters, sending final letters to friends - and foes - and delivering a valedictory video address summing it all up."
The fathers of the internet must be turning in their virtual space.

The image of Death's Dance can be seen at http://fantastic.library.cornell.edu/imagerecord.php?record=96

Monday, September 24, 2007

On social network etiquette

Here's an curious post from O'Reilly, in which he considers social networking etiquette.

Would you like to be my friend?

What should a lecturer / teacher do if the request comes from a student or pupil?
Will the way the invitation is written have any influence on the response?

Web 2.0 in the local news.

Compare and contrast these two articles.

In the first the BBC reported on a survey which suggests that in the UK
"233 million hours are lost every month as a result of employees "wasting time" on social networking."
In the same article the BBC helpfully points to research undertaken at Sheffield Hallam University wondering whether social networking is changing the face of friendship. They find that
"Online social networks tend to be far larger than their real-life counterparts, but online users say they have about the same number of close friends as the real-life average person."
In the second article the BBC report that
"Three council workers have lost their jobs for spending too long on the internet auction site eBay. One was sacked and two resigned after managers at Neath Port Talbot Council found some staff were spending up to two hours a day on the website."
Against this sort of background I cannot help but wonder whether the rush to integrate social networking sites with PLEs is sensible.

On Google Docs, Commoncraft and dotSUB

Although I do very little collaborative work I can see the value of Google Docs.
There can be no doubt that those involved in group activities would find the ability to share and work on documents on line useful.

Lecturers might want to bring Google Docs to the attention of their students, and possibly explore the application themselves to facilitate the preparation of papers for departmental, university and wider audiences.

The commoncraft team have produced an excellent video, describing clearly and simply how Google Docs works.
Watch it.

Regular readers would not be surprised to read that I would be careful about the sort of documents that I might place in Google's care. It might not be the place for highly sensitive, controversial or valuable documents. On the other hand documents placed in Google's care might be more secure than those left on lost and stolen laptops or on the hard drives of second hand computers.


As a result of reading the commoncroft blog I have been introduced to dotSUB, a Web 2.0 application that provides an easy way for videos to be translated into a wide range of languages by the use of subtitles.

Its very clever, simple to use and should be noted by those who work in bilingual and multilingual countries.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

On the "social graph"

During the last couple of months as I have been observing the rise and fall of social networks on the web I have noticed the increasing use of the phrase "social graph".

I think that the popularity of the phrase can be traced to a talk by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.
"Zuckerberg attributed the power of Facebook to the “social graph, ” the network of connections and relationships between people on the service. He said, “It’s the reason Facebook works.”

“Its changing the way the world works,” he said, pushing information out faster than any big company can. “As Facebook adds more and more people with more and more connections it continues growing and becomes more useful at a faster rate. We are going to use it spread information through the social graph.” The net effect of the social graph is that groups and application can achieve exponential growth, he said."
Since then many authorities, bloggers, software houses and academics have all started to use the phrase. If I am honest in my reading I have found use of the phrase confusing. In my mind a graph is usually a visual representation of some mathematical data and a social graph is a representation of a social network; the sort of things student teachers were asked to provide on teaching practice to illustrate classroom relationships.

Why, then when we read about social networks (as might be found in Facebook, Ellg, Ning, Bebo et al) do we read of social graphs? It doesn't make sense.


What a joy it was to discover this evening that Dave Winer thinks the same as me!

Friday, September 21, 2007

On Blogger Play

If you've nothing better to do why not give Blogger Play a whirl?

It's interesting, rather mesmeric, and it's led me to some interesting blogs.
Many of the photographs are just breathtaking.

I bet it sucks up bandwidth.

In their own words.
"Blogger Play will show you a never-ending stream of images that were just uploaded to public Blogger blogs. You can click the image to be taken directly to the blog post it was uploaded to, or click “show info” to see an overlay with the post title, a snippet of the body, and some profile information about the blogger who uploaded it."

"It's a great snapshot of what people are thinking and posting about right now"
Inappropriate images are filtered out and should you not want your images appearing an opt out facility is available.

Am I alone in finding this a little scary?
Did you know your blogged photos are being shown (albeit fleetingly) to an unsuspecting audience?
Did anyone ask your permission?
Did anyone tell you it would happen?

It's not quite Big Brother is watching, more a case of everyone in the world watching!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

On deleting facebook

As my cynicism about facebook grows I have been so pleased to come across this post from Brian Heys writing about "How to delete your facebook account".
(update 18.01.08 I'm not certain this link works anymore)

Good advice, but remember should you decide to close your facebook, it is deactivated; which I guess means that all your data, your profile, etc. etc. will be preserved for when you realise the folly of your ways and want your friends back.
It will also be preserved for facebook to access as they see fit.

I'm not certain if deactivating an account is the same as removing user content?
Reading the terms of use we discover that....
When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.
Returning to the book to reactivate a dormant account should be easy.
I might try deactivating my account and returning to see what happens.

I wonder do Facebook include dormant accounts in their user numbers?
Remember the doubts about Second Life statistics?

Update. 14.02.08.
Facebook introduce choice between deactivation and deletion

Thursday, September 13, 2007

On the TUC, Academics and Facebook.

Back in August Facebook changed.

As everyone knows, in its original form Facebook was a social networking website for American students. Members were linked via networks based around universities. As it spread globally membership was restricted to those with an .edu, .ac.uk type email address. Later networks were developed for High Schools and some businesses. Late in 2006 membership was opened to anyone with an email address.

In its original form The Facebook carried an application called Courses, this brought together students following the same course and made it possible for students to identify and contact their peers (invaluable for students popular courses). Keen observers of Facebook will have noticed that this application has disappeared, has been withdrawn, is no more.

A mention of its withdrawal can be found in the Facebook blog.
"The initial version of the Courses application was created by Facebook to give you as much functionality as possible. As of today, we're turning off our version of Courses and have decided to turn this over to the developer community and let you – our users – decide which Courses application works best for you. In many ways, our developer community is the best suited to create the applications that help people connect, track, and collaborate with their teachers, professors, and classmates. Many of our developers are in school and have used some kind of collaboration software. Their experiences make them the ideal creators of useful education applications."
I'm not convinced by this argument. Really what Facebook are saying here is we've grown and changed, many members don't come from college networks, so the Course application is no longer part of our core mission.

It's somewhat ironic that as HE academics take an interest in Facebook, Facebook begins to distance itself from it's roots.

Back in August the TUC issued advice for employers and their staff.
Should we be discussing these issues with students?

Our American colleagues have much more experience of Facebook as a learning tool. These slightly dated notes from Unit Structures may be of use.
Should we be discussing these issues with academics?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On using Facebook

Now, here's a truly interesting idea.

"Create Engaging Web Applications Using Metrics and Learning on Facebook"
is a new course at Stanford where
"Students will build applications for Facebook, then gather and analyze detailed information about how Facebook users actually use them. Students will focus on using detailed numerical measurements to guide software iterations, just like developers do on thousands of existing Facebook applications."
Perhaps here we shall find a real purpose for Facebook in education. I can't find the course on the internet, but it has a group.
"Students in the class will work in groups of three, first developing an application designed to appeal to most Facebook users.

Groups will then develop a second application, more closely focused around helping students use Facebook for education, such as a way for students to share class notes with each other.

They’ll be graded based on how many Facebook users they can get actively using their applications."
It would be great if they come up with some really useful educational applications, because if we are honest not many exist ....... yet.

I'm not convinced that the students should be graded accorded to the number of application users, but perhaps there's far more to their assessment than the Venture Beat article suggests.

I'm quite interested in B J Fogg's suggestion that academic computer scientists need to consider "the nuts and bolts of creating software people want to use."

He has a point.

On Facebook (again) and thighs!

danah has been writing and thinking about facebook.

I am so pleased that she's confused by it.

I still don't get it, don't understand the hype, don't understand how it gets so much publicity, and dare I say it don't think it will last. It's a social networking site with a limited lifecycle.

She's also been writing about the perils of working with a laptop, describing blotchy burns on her thighs!

My thighs have been suffering! I work sitting one leg crossed over the other, my laptop balanced on one thigh. At first it was just an itch, a slight irritation. I thought that I was developing a skin rash, an allergic response to soap, shower gel or something similar. I even wondered about the washing powder we were using. Then the penny dropped.

The problem is, that the burn (for that's what it is) develops slowly. My white Macbook isn't that hot to touch, it feels pleasantly warm and you wouldn't think that it could cause damage, but it does. It seems to me that the burn grows over time. It's not like touching a flame or a hot plate. Its more of a stealth burn. After several hours work it can become painful, reminding me that its time to have a rest or swap legs! As time goes by I have noticed that my thigh has become more sensitive and as a result the length of time I spend per leg has shrunk. And yes now I look I can see the dreaded red blotch.

I suspect that the damage, for that's what it is is serious and needs to be respected. It feels more significant than sun burn, it feels deeper if that makes sense.

I know the solutions are simple.

I need to stop putting the laptop on my lap, change my posture, get a lap seat thing, sit at a desk, use an asbestos blanket, spend time wondering about why they are called laptops, spend less time working, spend more time off the net.

But it's not that simple, that's not how I work.

Help....... I'm addicted to my laptop.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

On technology

Here's an interesting quote from elearnspace ........

"technology is not necessarily beneficial to teaching. Start with the teaching and learning first. Then consider technology as a possible add on."



Mmmmm.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

On News Readers, Gambling and Second Life

Returning to Google Reader after a break of several weeks has brought its own challenges.
What to read? What to ignore?

A colleague remarked that it might be easier to hit the "mark all as read" button.

I'm afraid to use the mark all as read button, (just in case I miss something really important); yet I have no problem with placing unread newspapers straight in the recycling bin.

Which means that in my world it's easier to ignore the printed news in the real world than it is to ignore the news in cyberspace. To resolve this problem I've been catching up with my news feeds a few at a time, which in turn means that the order of stories that I comment on here or store at deli.co.us may seem a little erratic for a while.

Here are two stories that caught my eye.
Compare and contrast.

New legislation has been introduced in the UK "bringing casinos, bookmakers and online betting providers under a new regulatory body". This is of little concern to me as I've been in a casino only twice in my life, don't bet and despite my interest in the web have never been tempted to gamble online. Included in the new regulations is a change in the law that will allow gambling operators to advertise on TV and radio.

At the same time as gambling is to some extent being legitimised in the real world, Linden Labs the operators and owners of Second Life have banned gambling in the portion of cyberspace under their control.

Isn't that strange?

On Facebook, public search listings and friends


On entering Facebook yesterday I noticed that I was being invited to check out my public search listing.

I didn't know I had one!

It seems that Facebook is changing.



My Public Search Listing will be available not only from the welcome page but soon through search engines like Google (sic)

My public search listing means that "friends" who aren't yet on Facebook will be able to search for me from Facebook's front page. In a week or two these listings will be available in Google et al. Once again our understanding of the word friend is stretched. It now seems to include anyone, friend or foe, who might be connected to the Internet.

Anyone who discovers me who is not already a member of Facebook will have to join if they want to contact me...which will still leave me in control of any contact but also makes me link bait for Facebook, and Facebook little more than a telephone directory.

Which means that I might want to be ex directory.

Which reminds me of this observation by Tom Coates.

The BBC report this story here.


I'm really not sure I understand Facebook.

On the end of Summer!

As the summer draws to a close it is time for me to return to The Hill.



Time to return to academic reading, writing and my research.
Time to reflect and write.

During the summer much has happened, World Blog Day happened and it passed me by.

Blog Day 2007

On August 31st participating bloggers linked to five new blogs, "different from their own culture, point of view and attitude," so that "on this day, blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, unknown Blogs, celebrating the discovery of new people and new bloggers."

Imagine my surprise to return to my blog to discover that my blog had been linked.

Mr.Harrington blogging teacher at Ddraig Goch blog, was good enough to give me a mention. His mention brought me extra traffic (not much, but some) and a comment!

Comments happen rarely On the Hill. Visitors often leave nothing but footprints (and a time stamp at my stat counter). They lurk! I cannot complain as I do the same. Perhaps during the next academic year I should make an effort to stop lurking.

I have mixed feelings about comments, but I am glad that Jennifer and Mr. Harrington left comments, for not only did they lead me to Ddraig Goch and ThinkTime , they have led me to reflect upon the importance of comments (which may feature in next term's blogging project.)

As Mr. Harrington, knows in a primary school ideally every piece of work undertaken by pupils is commented upon by the teacher. Good work is shared and celebrated. Our first year undergraduates are not unlike primary pupils, they need instant positive feedback. If we require them to blog for us, we need to participate, to comment to involve ourselves in their work. Furthermore we need to encourage them to read one another's work and comment.

Difficult.

As a result of reading ThinkTime today I have been introduced to TagCrowd. This is such a clever application. It creates tag clouds from text typed, pasted or uploaded into the tool at their web site. The resulting cloud provides a visual analysis of the text based on word frequencies. I've tried it out with the text of this post.


created at TagCrowd.com




What have I been writing about?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On statistics (again!)

Lee Le Fever at Common Craft Blog (the people that brought us the outstanding RSS in Plain English and Wikis in Plain English videos) points at some interesting statistics produced by Harris Interactive for Wet Paint an American wiki company.

"16% of the US online population is familiar with what a wiki is.
Even if you just look at the online trendsetters (18-34 year olds), only 27% of those online users are familiar with wikis.
Blogs, which have universal awareness among nearly anyone reading this post, are only familiar to 35% of online users. And familiarity with social networks as a category still ranks below that of online forums at 28% and 35% respectfully.
For context, consider that 76% of the same population know of search engines and 97% of toilet paper."

These figures are confusing.

Given the hype and publicity around wikipedia, how is it that the wiki recognition figure is so low?
How can it be that only 76% of the same population know of search engines?
What context does that provide?

My informal observations of students and academics confirm what Lee suggests.
"We're making assumptions about what people understand about our online world. There is more misunderstanding than understanding and more confusion than solution."
Where are the digital natives?
Not in my college!

On Blogging

Here's an insightful quotation from the Wired Blogs.

"Blogging is not about making friends, it’s about expressing yourself truthfully and in the process providing some hitherto unforeseen insight into an important issue or topic of the day. If you make friends, that's a bonus. Real blogging is about shedding the politics and letting it all hang out. Sometimes that honesty yields less than enjoyable results, but other times the honesty of certain blog posts can inspire us all into action or thinking about important issues in a different light."

(via Scripting News)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

On Danah, Facebook and Wales.

Danah at apophenia has written an excellent blog essay, (a rough work in progress paper) which she has called "Viewing American Class Divisions through Facebook and MySpace."

Its an excellent read, far better than many of the press articles describing its contents.

Regular readers of Danah's blog are I think aware of the way she works. She finds her own observations "disconcerting". It is interesting to note how many of those who commented on her thoughts, choose to criticise her rather than her observations which suggest that
"Hegemonic American teens (i.e. middle/upper class, college bound teens from upwards mobile or well off families) are all on or switching to Facebook. Marginalized teens, teens from poorer or less educated backgrounds, subculturally-identified teens, and other non-hegemonic teens continue to be drawn to MySpace. A class division has emerged and it is playing out in the aesthetics, the kinds of advertising, and the policy decisions being made."
I need time to think about her observations as I'm not certain how her theories might translate to the UK, or to Wales. I'm not convinced that the urge to Facebook or MySpace is as central to UK student life as it is in America, but it is growing. In the last week I've noticed several relatively prominent Welsh bloggers writing about the use of Facebook by politicians (locally and nationally) and by journalists seeking copy.

Here are a set of notes made by a blogger who heard Danah speak at Harvard.
The blog provides a good example of how a blog can be used to present notes taken at a lecture, seminar or tutorial.

Out of curiosity I've explored Facebook this morning and looked at the regional and college statistics for Wales. These figures are correct as of today.

The WALES network has 65,952 members.

In hierarchical order the college networks (in Wales) have the following numbers of members.

Cardiff, 15,104
Swansea, 6,447
Aber, 5,995
Bangor, 4,145
Uni Glam, 2,243
UW Institute Cardiff, 1,653
UW Newport, 716
Swansea IHE, 481
Lampeter, 469
Trinity, 333
RW College of Music and Drama, 332
NEWI, 356

A total of 38,274 facebook memberships.
(How many students are there in Wales?)
(How old are these networks?)

To make sense of these figures, some statistical work will be required to show the number of facebook memberships as a percentage of the student population of each of the colleges, as we are not really comparing like with like here. (I suspect that Cardiff on Facebook includes the College of Medicine.)

I wonder if I can find similar figures for Bebo or MySpace?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Notes on Facebook (2)

In an earlier post I referred to Privacy International's consultation report "A Race to the Bottom: Privacy Ranking of Internet Services" in which Google is categorised as engaging in "comprehensive consumer surveillance" and as having an "entrenched hostility to privacy". Facebook does little better and is described as "displaying substantial and comprehensive privacy threats." In fact the same description was applied to six other companies; AOL, Apple, Hi5, Reunion.com, Windows Live Space, and Yahoo!

Facebook's position close to the bottom of the Privacy International rankings is surprising as the the two well publicised principles of Facebook state that :-
"You have control over personal information. and You have access to information others want to share."
Privacy International's report led me to read the small print and to consider what I read. In relation to "user content posted on the site" the second paragraph of the terms of use states :-
"When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content."
Read that again, slowly and out loud if it helps and concentrate on the sentence that says when you post something (anything) on the site you grant
"to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing."
Which means, I think that once you write something on Facebook it is no longer yours, it's theirs. If you value your thoughts, Facebook is not the place for exploring or discussing original ideas.

In their Privacy Policy, Facebook describe very clearly and plainly the information they collect about users. This falls into two types, personal information disclosed by the user within the Facebook and Web Site use information collected as users move around in Facebook. There is a mass of information collected here, IP addresses, cookies, email addresses etc. and Facebook are very open in their description of what they collect and how they use that data to feed their advertiser's appetite for audience demographics.

What particularly interested me about this section was an additional sentence which states
"Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (e.g., photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalized experience."
That's a third type of information they might collect, information that they might actively go out and search for based on what they know about you already.

It seems that signing up to Facebook implies granting permission for the possibility of data mining and data matching. Social networking in cyberspace comes with risks that might equal those found in meatspace.

In Facebook's defence none of this information is hidden. Their terms of service and privacy policy are easily found on their front page. But who reads it? I certainly didn't.

In the world of social software Facebook has an impressive record of growth, an enormous and growing user group, and with its recent changes of policy the opportunity to become far more than a facilitator of networks. The Facebook garden is a truly beautiful thing to see, we must take care that we don't get trapped behind it's walls.

It is my belief that we need to think carefully about Facebook. As a provider or enabler of social networking it does just what it says on the box, as providers or facilitators of formal and informal learning we need to consider whether to open the box.

Remember Pandora.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Notes on Facebook

Facebook is one of the social networking sites, bringing together "friends" in linked networks. In its original American form to join users had to be part of an institiution of higher education (which provided the primary network), being described as student, alumni, faculty or staff members. At the present time joiners to facebook are allowed to join networks based on schools, colleges, workplaces and regions. In the UK in May there were 1.4 million active users. Once in a network (and you can join up to five) users can form interest groups, creating networks within networks just like in the real world. What we do in cyberspace reflects what we do in meatspace.

Facebook is addictive.
Once users enter the world of Facebook it is not long before the word addiction slips into our conversations. Facebook does not facilitate work, it gets in the way. When we should be working we're checking on where our friends are, what they've done,whether they're online, what applications they've installed.

Facebook illuminates the actions of ones friends, it displays personal information about them that is difficult to ignore. By nature inquisitive, we want to know as much as we can about our "friends", colleagues or family both on and off line. Non users of facebook when shown the site almost immediately ask "Is person x on facebook? Search for him / her. Show me their profile"
Facebook feeds the voyeur in us.

Facebook teaches us about our friends, yet we only get to observe what our friends want us to see. Facebook is one giant coffee table book. Users construct their profiles carefully, knowing that friends will read them with equal care. The choices made in profiles may tell us less about what they are and more about what they might wish us to think they are. Reader beware.
Facebook feeds the exhibitionist in us.

During the last few months Facebook has developed in two areas. Firstly membership is now open to school and college students aged between 13 and 18, and to anyone else anywhere with an email address. This provides Facebook with a new user base. While many current users of Facebook lament this, it makes commercial sense. Secondly, Facebook has opened the Facebook platform to third party developers without revenue sharing. Facebook has therefore become an application progamming interface within a closed social network.

Its easy to see the advantages of this for Facebook, for the third party developers, for the advertisers and at first glance for the users. Imagine Facebook.com as your homepage, the start point of all your on line activity, links to all your favourite applications, news feeds etc. etc.......

But Facebook is a closed system, to use it you have to be in it. Not much comes out of Facebook, the curiously named news feed won't feed my favourite news reader. While Facebook Platform makes it possible to access Google from within Facebook, you can see out but Google's bots can't see you.

Why is that?

Monday, June 18, 2007

On Solar power at the Googleplex

Google have fitted solar panels on the rooftops of eight of their buildings and two of their car ports at the Googleplex

According to Google, this installation
is projected to produce enough electricity for approximately 1,000 California homes or 30% of Google's peak electricity demand in our solar powered buildings at our Mountain View, CA headquarters.
As befits a company that guides us through digital space, Google has made a serious commitment to solar energy production.
Monitor their day to day production of electricity here.

I wonder how many coffee makers there are in the Googleplex?