Webometric Thoughts

October 24, 2007

What is a blog? Does it have to be social?

Filed under: blogosphere — admin @ 10:53 am

The other day I read an article that probably contained the worst description of a blog ever:

In a nutshell, a blog is a “do-it-yourself” website

Anyone who engages in the blogosphere would realise how rotten a nutshell this particular comment is, however the borders of what is and is not a blog are pretty vague. To me a key ingrediant of the blogosphere is the engagement with other users, unless we allow others to comment on our opinions blogs are little more than vanity publishing. Unfortunately it is not always a simple process to comment on some people’s blogs, we can find ourselves hampered by blogs not allowing comments, having moderated comments, or having a comments section that is damned-near impossible to find!

Relating to the above, high ranking, linked-to examples:
-Yes, Seth Godin shows trackbacks, but I don’t necessary want to add a blog post on a topic.
-I don’t understand why Andrew Keen utilises moderated comments when he then passes spam and pointless insults for publication.
-Why does Dave Winer have comments when they are such a bugger to find?

Spam and offensive comments are probably more of a problem to high profile bloggers than me, although I was privileged enough to receive my own comment from a BNP idiot, and I can understand why they put safeguards in place. It is however bloody annoying to the fairly-respectable majority, who come across a comment to which they want to respond and can’t.

October 23, 2007

Kinset needs a bit more Second Life

Filed under: Amazon,Kinset,Online Shopping,Second Life — admin @ 10:58 am

Yesterday saw the launch of Kinset’s browser, the self-proclaimed “Internet’s first and only Truly Immersive 3D shopping experience” (brought to my attention by those folks at Mashable). Whilst their proclamation seems extremely debatable to anyone who has strolled along some of the rather curious boulevards in Second Life, there is little doubt that Kinset is taking online shopping to a whole new level.

Whilst the browser takes a while to download and install, once installed it will provide access to two established stores, with more on the way if other shops utilise Kinset’s technology. Currently there is Bunchabooks and LectroTown, both in association with Amazon, both fairly self-explanatory names. Both shops follow the traditional shop lay-outs, suitable for browsing, and if you can’t see what you want on the shelf you can always search for something more specific, and it will appear behind the till.

What Kinset shops are missing is the human element which is present in Second Life; the inclusion of the flat pictures of shop assistants in LectroTown (who are always facing you) just don’t provide the same welcoming feeling. Unfortunately Second Life either has box-like shops selling Second Life goods:

Or nice warm friendly looking places, which are unfortunately just for show:

I like people with my books. People-watching is one of the enjoyable parts of shopping/browsing in a bookshop, I like to see what others are looking at and buying, and it would be nice to see it included in 3D online shopping. There are also the obvious advantages of being able to discuss books with people in the shops, something that could make online book shopping more enjoyable than the physical book shopping experience where you are less likely to approach a perfect stranger for their opinion on something.

All in all the introduction of Kinset’s technology bodes well for the future of online shopping, and rather than a finished product may be seen as a taster of things to come. My only quibble is that the shops were restricted too much to the physical idea of space. Why can’t the headers leap to sub-shops on those particular subject?

October 20, 2007

BBC Flash Player Starts to Roll-out

Filed under: BBC,Flash,archive,iPlayer — admin @ 10:02 am

Less than a week ago the BBC announced that it had come to an agreement with Adobe allowing it to stream programmes with Flash. Whilst there are no exact dates as yet, the BBC doesn’t seem to be messing around. They announced in their Archive Newsletter last night:

We’re also launching a new media player that uses Flash instead of RealPlayer or Windows Media. We have to stress that as this is more to help us with technical aspects of the trial, it won’t be released to everyone, sadly. We’ll be e-mailing a selection of triallists soon with more information. We’re sorry, but we won’t be able to extend this group of triallists, but we thought you’d like to know that it exists, even if we can’t give everyone access to it.

At this rate the streaming should be completely rolled out by Christmas, and come Christmas Day the Queen’s speech will fit into my schedule…surely that must be treasonable!

October 18, 2007

China redirects: Could my ISP do the same?

Filed under: Baidu,China,Dalai Lama,George Bush,Google,search engine — admin @ 5:30 pm

The big news in the blogosphere this afternoon seems to be Chinese surfers being redirected from the US search engines to Baidu, with many suggesting that it is a reaction to George Bush recognising the Dalai Lama. Whilst the blogosphere is unsurprisingly outraged, personally I quite like the idea of having my ISP stopping me going to Google.

We all have certain URLs we type into the address bar automatically. If I am searching for something I find myself typing ‘google.com’ without a thought for Ask, MSN, Yahoo, or any of the thousand other search engines available. If I am momentarily at a loss as to what to do next I find myself returning to my emails for the umpteenth time, or checking my bloglines for the zillionth time. If my ISP forced me to use another search engine every now and again, or forced me to have reasonable periods of time elapse before returning to the same web site again and again, I am sure I would utilise the web much more productively.

Yes, I know, civil liberties, blah blah blah…I’m just saying that there is an up side.

At last my own QR code t-shirt

Filed under: QR codes,t-shirt — admin @ 8:03 am

When I first blogged about QR codes on the 5th of October I mentioned that I wanted to get my own qr code on a t-Shirt. Now, thanks to the University of Wolverhampton School of Art and Design, I have my own qr code t-shirt.

Does it work? Yes. In fact it even works from the above photo!

October 17, 2007

I want Download! Windows Live NOT Download!Sonic Jump!

Filed under: N95,Sonic Jump,Windows Live — admin @ 9:35 am

I have just noticed that my the Download! folder on my N95 has been rearranged this morning. Was this due to Nokia finally providing the Windows Live Services they promised almost 2 months ago? Of course not, the wait continues.

The only new item in this morning’s reshuffle seems to be the inclusion of a Sonic Jump demo, and whilst that seems quite an enjoyable little game (much more so than the stupid Snakes game), it is not the reason I have been constantly checking my Download! folder for the last two months.

How long does it take roll out one little piece of software in this interconnected age? Whilst I find it annoying that the United Arab Emirates seem to have access to the software before the UK, I am sure it is much more annoying for the Finns who also seem to be waiting! Such a slow rollout doesn’t encourage people to wait for the official version.

Week One of Google Analytics

Filed under: Google Analytics,webometrics — admin @ 8:01 am

Last Tuesday (at about lunchtime) I started utilising Google Analytics so that I could see whether anyone was accidently stumbling across my blog. Up until then the only indication I received was if someone left a comment, as traffic data from my web host is considered an extra and costs £15 per year! Today I can see, for the first time, a week’s worth of data. Although as a webometrician it is not suprising that I have been looking at the data numerous times over the last week.

Since the introduction of Google Analytics I have had 78 unique users from 11 different countries, and whilst that is not exactly setting the world on fire, I can at least rest in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be doubling my audience by sending my mother the URL.

The most curious finding was the amount of traffic I had driven to my site by Google for a post I wrote on the 16th of September about a rather idiotic Facebook group called ‘Leamington Spa Celebrity Mental Spotting’. The traffic emphasises that it is not necessarily the topic that is important, but rather the uniqueness of the topic. Whilst there are millions of people searching for ‘iPhone’ and ‘Facebook’, there are millions of posts on those subjects; whereas there are only a few people searching for ‘leamington spa celebrity mental spotting’ but the small number of posts means that mine is likely to be near the top of the pile.

The statistics also point out the necessity of making the blog more engaging, most users only viewed the one page. Whilst a pre-defined template is never going be very exciting, the ease of use makes them very appealing.

Who knows, maybe with the help of Google Analytics I will have over 100 unique users next week!

October 16, 2007

BBC: The Best of British

Filed under: BBC,Dave,N95,Sky Sports,iPlayer — admin @ 9:19 am

If you had to create a list of the best things about Britain only a fool would ignore the BBC, and despite being in existence for over 75 years, in various forms, it continues to be at the forefront of the latest technologies. Last night its news site (probably the best news in the world) announced that the BBC site would be accessible at The Cloud wi-fi hotspots throughout the UK for free, but even more interestingly it provided some further details of the future of BBC TV on the internet.

Key points:
- A streaming Flash version of the iPlayer
- Downloading to portable devices (such as N95 and PSP)
- Not commited to offering download version of iPlayer to Linux and Mac

Whilst the streaming version will be a more inclusive version for the whinging Linux and Mac users, I am sure there will still be complaints that they can’t have a download version, but as the BBC says “It comes down to cost per user”. Of course I personally welcome the proposed addition of the N95 version (especially as I have numerous trouble connecting to my Sky Sports package), and hope that the Flash version will be compatible with the Wii, but I also realise the need for the BBC to be cost effective.

The biggest probably I have at the moment with the BBC is finding time to watch and listen to all their programmes. The iPlayer is slowly filling with programmes I will probably never have time to watch, my N95 is filling with podcasts faster than I can listen to them, and I am constantly battling with the wi-fi radio to utilise the 7-day catch-up before we reach day eight! The change in the media landscape is best expressed through a comparison of launch of the Channel 4 twenty-five years ago, and the launch of Dave on Freeview yesterday. Where one was launched with a blaze of publicity that everyone was talking about, Dave was launched with little more than a whimper. As yet I haven’t even bothered to re-tune my digi-box.

October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: Merely platitudes?

Filed under: Blog Action Day,blogosphere,carbon footprint,environment — admin @ 7:33 am

Today is ‘Blog Action Day’, where bloggers around the world unite to discuss a single important issue, the environment. But whilst there can be little doubt that the environment, and more specifically our abuse of it, is one of the most important issues of the 21st centuries, I am unsure whether a single blog action day will do much good. People need to start making major changes to their personal lifestyles, and unfortunately I doubt whether people are going to be willing to make such changes however eloquently people may blog on the subject.

The inherently selfish nature of the average person means that whilst they are willing to ‘do their bit’ for the environment, this is on the understanding that it doesn’t overly effect their own lifestyle.
Taking the bottles to the bottle bank – yes.
Walking to work – no.
Restricting the number of flights they take each year – no.
Holidaying nearer to home – no.
Only eating seasonal fruit and vegetables – no.
… and the list just goes on.

When people are questioned about their own carbon footprint there tends to be three sorts of answers:
1) They question the validity of the science (despite their lacking the most rudimentary grasp of scientific principles).
2) They look forward to a warmer climate (these people are just idiots).
3) They believe it is their right to live their life however they want (these people are just ****ers).

Personally I hope this blog action day will make people look more closely at their own lives, and recognise the need for personal large scale change, unfortunately I am quite pessimistic when it comes to relying on the average man doing the right thing.

Professionally however, I look forward to following whether there is a noticeable rise in the discussion of environmental topics across the blogosphere, and more importantly, whether such a rise will be sustained.

October 12, 2007

Yahoo Site Explorer serves conflicting results

Filed under: Yahoo Site Explorer,webometrics — admin @ 1:07 pm

Search engines play an important role in webometric studies as most researchers have neither the processing power, the bandwidth, or the inclination to attempt to crawl and index the whole of the web themselves. However, search engine data is very imprecise, they are estimated numbers of results, varying according to which server is being searched, how deep into the results the user is digging, and now it emerges according to whether you are logged in or not…at least according to Yahoo Site Explorer.

The volatility of the results can be seen through looking at the results for www.seroundtable.com, the site that just published a story about this particular cause of search result variety (I’m, not sure if I have come across it before). In fact there seems to be much more variation than the site first mentioned. Results depend on: whether you are logged in; how deep you digg into the results; and whether you are looking at the same page as the results (the number of inlinks can be seen when viewing the pages indexed, and equally the number of pages indexed can be seen when viewing the inlinks).

When looking at the first page (or the tenth page) of results for pages indexed, not logged in:
Inlinks = 35,171
When looking at the first page of result for inlinks, not logged in:
Inlinks = 56,200
When looking at the tenth page of results for inlinks, not logged in:
Inlinks = 55,288
When looking at the first page of results for pages indexed, logged in:
Inlinks = 187,124
When looking at the tenth page of results for pages indexed, logging in:
Inlinks = 223,242
When looking at the first page of results for inlinks, logged in:
Inlinks = 195,239
When looking at the tenth page of results for inlinks, logged in:
Inlinks = 222,681

Whilst appreciating that search engines can’t know everything, they could at least have the decency to reflect this by not giving such specific results…obviously what an academic really want is access to the data itself, but we may as well wish for the moon on a stick.

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