Webometric Thoughts

September 19, 2007

fbFund as ‘Programming Collective Intelligence’ arrives…

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:00 am

..surely it can only be a matter if moments (possibly days) until the millions start rolling in!

The only topic of conversation that seems to be successfully competing with the iPhone’s European launch on the web and in the blogosphere is the launch of the Facebook Fund. The grants of between $25,000 and $250,000 which ask nothing in return except the right to fund the companies first, are obviously going to create a lot of interest especially amongst college students and recent graduates who may be looking to launch something new and exciting as the web 2.0 bubble gains pace.

There seems little downside to the fund (except for the weakness of the dollar for non-US citizens) and I would expect other networking sites to offer similar inducements if they are going to keep pace with Facebook’s innovation levels. That is, after they have opened up their platforms.

That the news has broken at the same time as a new programming book finally arrived from Amazon surely can’t be a coincidence…maybe the Facebook Fund will be the kick I need to actually read one of these programming books I keep getting.

Alternatively my time may be better spent tidying my desk.

iPhone: Data included ..but not 3G

Filed under: iphone — admin @ 8:43 am

One of my quibbles about the launch of the iPhone on O2 was the lack of a decent data plan. According to engadget unlimited data comes as standard, so that is one of my objections dealt with, however it is finally revealed that the European version (like the US version) won’t be 3G either. So, would I now touch it with a bargepole maybe a very long one, and rather tentatively.

With the talk of a 3G iPhone in 2008 I may consider it at that point, but until then I will stick to the N95.

September 17, 2007

Is there more to life than Facebook and the iPhone?

Filed under: blogosphere,facebook,iphone — admin @ 7:47 am

It sometimes feels as though every other story I read on the web is talking about either Facebook or the iPhone. Surely more than they deserve? Especially for a UK reader where the iPhone is not yet available and the last I head Facebook was in third place in the UK. Admittedly it is the fastest growing, but much of this is due to the extremely low starting point as it only recently opened up to UK users.

So has the over-exuberance of the web, and especially the blogosphere, for the iPhone addled the minds of those people at O2 who, its being reported, have paid through the nose to be the UK carrier of the iPhone. Whilst the iPhone has created enough of an internet buzz to really get people interested in the next generation of mobile phones, does this mean it is necessarily the best, or that it is good enough to draw people to the O2 network.

There is no doubt that the iPhone is a stylish looking bit of kit, but does it really compete with the functionality offered by the N95? Whilst it doesn’t look like it, it doesn’t have to. The majority who buy the iPhone will be buying it as a fashion accessory, and there will undoubtedly be plenty of them.

Personally I weighed up the option of waiting for the iPhone on O2 (it had been rumoured for a while) or going for the N95 on a carrier who offered unlimited web use for £7.50 a month, it was an obvious choice. Looking at the O2 site today, I still can’t see an unlimited web use option (the only price I could spot was £3 for 2MB of browsing), and unless it introduces an unlimited tariff for the iPhone (which they may not be able to afford to now), I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole.

September 16, 2007

Facebookers v.s the ‘Eccentrics’

Filed under: facebook — admin @ 2:03 pm

The Facebook group law probably goes something like this:

The probability of a town ‘eccentric’ being the focus of a Facebook group reaches one when there is at least one Facebook user in the town.

Its not necessarily a particularly nice law, but it seems to be true. Facebook offers the chance for the rather childish poking fun at people who are different to us to continue beyond our school days with little fear of censure. My thoughts are brought to this topic of conversation after noticing a rather odd titled ‘popular event’ in Facebook’s West Midlands network:


A glance at the ‘event’ and a quick Google News of the terms Leamington, Spa and Facebook reveals the story. The ‘eccentrics’ of Leamington Spa are the focus of their own Facebook group: Leamington Spa Celebrity Mental Spotting. Whilst there are many groups devoted to those who are often riduculed and outcast from mainstream society (and even a ‘What’s the time Gordon the Tramp’ application) the difference with this group is that this time a local mental health group contacted the police and asked them to do something about it as it is slanderous to the people featured.

I am unsure how somebody reporting a perceived injustice to the police would make them “a cowardly f***”, but there again I am still trying to get my head around the group creator’s current oxymoronic status where she is riling against the “politically correct nanny state facists”.

Its unfortunate that we live in a world where there are people with so many problems, and that they feel the need to group together and poke fun at other people.

September 15, 2007

Where’s George Bailey when you need him?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 4:01 pm

The UK is not the sort of place where there should be a run on a bank, it has one of the best regulated financial systems in the world, and supposedly a fairly educated population. Nonetheless a combination of stupidity and selfishness has managed to evetually force some branches of Northern Rock to close their doors. Unfortunately all those that have joined in getting this bank run going will be too stupid to realise that if there are any significant consequences it will have been their fault, and they will probably just stand around telling people that they were right to get their money out when they did.

From a technology point of view, this bank run has shown the importance of the web site for an organisation’s dissemination of information in times of crisis. Unfortunately for Northern Rock there were reports on the BBC yesterday that customers couldn’t access the web site. All of these customers that couldn’t find out what was happening online will then overwhelm the telephone switchboards and, failing to get through, will then appear at the bank demanding their money. It is imperative that all companies have adequate procedures in place for dealing with swell of interest that will accompany any disaster: mirror sites and bare-bones versions; have them sorted before the crisis.

Northern Rock customers…shame on you.

September 14, 2007

Blogging for money

Filed under: adsense,blogging — admin @ 8:03 am

Most people would like to earn a living doing something they enjoy and one of the things bloggers enjoy is blogging, unfortunately earning money through blogging is not particularly easy. Lasica points to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about how to make money from your blog. Whilst the emphasis is on the different ways to make money by including advertising on your blog, for the majority of blogs the number of hits they are likely to receive means that including advertising may adversely effect the growth of traffic to a blog whilst failing to make any money.

Within the article the ‘good rule of thumb’ is suggested that every 1,000 page views will make the blogger 50 cents. Whilst this will vary a lot according to the topic of the blog and how ad-click-friendly the users of the blog are, it is clear that the vast majority of bloggers will fail to make even 50cents a month, and these few cents will have to be accumulated for a long time before they can be cashed in; by which point the blogger will probably have given up. Personally I find ads to be off-putting on some blogs, especially where you get the feeling that rather than being focused on the content of the blog the bloggers are more concerned with the revenue stream. Rather than ads making you money, they can make you seem very amateur.

Rather than making the blogger a few cents, the real value of blog to the blogger is through selling the blogger. Whilst few blogs are likely to make the blogger rich through adverts, they may drive business, job offers, or invitations to give talks to the blogger. Alternatively the blog may just provide additional useful contacts in a area of shared interest. All of which are of more value to the average blogger than the few cents from adverts, and all of which may be put off by adverts.

Obviously my blog is nowhere near having enough traffic to warrant the inclusion of ads, but neither is it interesting enough to drive business, job offers or invitations to talk my way, but there again, what would I really do with the 50 cents I could make over the next year?

No mobiles for those under 16…Hooray!

Filed under: mobiles — admin @ 7:18 am

Unfortunately the banning of mobiles for the under sixteens is only in the state of Karnataka in India, but I can only hope that it turns out to be a great success and countries around the world adopt the idea. Whilst the ban is ostensibly due to the advice of medical experts, I’m sure it has more to do with some official having to sit next to a child playing an awful song outloud on their mobile once too often.

Although a couple of months ago I would have had no qualms about having to give up my mobile (although it would be a strange world where anyone thought I was under 16), I must admit that I would find it difficult since upgrading to the N95. I like to be able to watch television, listen to the radio, surf the web, and find where I am with the GPS (ok this bit is not strictly necessary during a stroll around the block),and sometimes even make a phone call. However any sympathy I may have for those about to lose their phones soon evaporates when I venture outside, where I find myself: forced to listen to someone else’s music as they consider it a violation of their personal freedom to use headphones; photographed everywhere I go as people capture every moment (however dull) for posterity; more likely to be run over due to car drivers recklessly texting/calling as they speed down the road.

Admittedly the anti-social use of the mobile phone is not only due to the under 16s, but it would be so much harder to pass a law that banned mobiles for everyone except me…and I’m not sure if I could really afford to pay for the whole network on my own.

September 13, 2007

Webometrics is addictive!

Filed under: alexa,blogpulse,metrics,technorati,webometrics — admin @ 4:24 pm

Despite knowing the meaninglessness of many the simple web metrics that can be calculated online and the inaccuracies that are inherent in the different tools available, for some reason I find that I am compelled to look at them.

The lack of inlinks or comments is not very surprising for a new blog. Many of the early posts are feeling one’s way, determining what sort of areas are going to be discussed; ‘finding one’s voice’ as the more pretenscious may say. Nonetheless there are already things of note for the addicted webometrician, albeit mostly about the tools themselves:
-Why does Blogpulse claim that I enthusiastically posted 16 posts on the 10th of September when looking at the blog I see I posted twice?
-Why has Technorati failed to index my post on Facebook metrics whilst seemingly indexing every other post?

And most importantly:
-Who is the lone Alexa user who visited three of my pages?

Although Alexa statistics are notoriously hit or miss, as relatively few web users have the software installed and once installed is often labelled spyware, it does allow comparisons between web sites. As an addicted webometrician the ability to compare my own blog with a fellow webometrician’s is too hard to turn down. Webometrics.fi:

Unfortunately I lose this time, but it is still early days….and surely this is the smallest margin possible?

Not even E-voting could help Burnley

Filed under: BNP,e-voting — admin @ 9:15 am

The British National Party has won the right for a recount for a seat they lost in the May council elections.

Every time there is an election the media always discusses the possibility of incorporating some form of electronic voting. Depending on the proposed system under discussion it is thought likely to increase participation, speed-up the counting process, decrease the number of spoiled ballot papers, and provide a more accurate result. Whilst that is great in theory, at the end of the day people are still going to make stupid decisions and vote for parties like the BNP out of fear and ignorance.

Maybe we should be making voting more difficult so that the sort of person who would vote for the BNP would fail to correctly fill in the ballot paper.

Wikipedia hits 2 million articles!

Filed under: Wikipedia — admin @ 8:22 am

Whilst Wikipedia is filled with articles of debatable accuracy, debatable worth, and a tendancy to be a lot more exhaustive in the geek section (at the time of posting there are seperate pages for both ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ episodes and ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine DVDs’), its having 2 million articles shows that it has a place in many people’s lives. Unfortunately, I fear, its ever increasing size and popularity means that it will gain authority in the public consciouness, which I think is a bad thing.

This is not to say that I am not a fan of Wikipedia, I use it daily, it is merely that I question the average users ability to investigate the authority of any web page, something that is only to be made worse by the inclusion of a recognisable brand name such as Wikipedia. Yes, errors will eventually be corrected, but that does not mean that what is being read is correct now.

I think it was David Weinberger who pointed out in his ‘Everything is Miscellaneous’, that Wikipedia is a great starting point for investigating a subject, unfortunately many people use it as the final word on a subject.

Whilst the web gives us access to more information than ever before, unfortunately our information skills were developed in an age where it was filtered by many professionals before it reached us.

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