Webometric Thoughts

November 30, 2007

Webometric Thoughts: For the more discerning webometrician

Filed under: readability,webometrics — admin @ 1:09 pm

In the small field of webometrics there are few blogs, but after finding the blog readability test (via Halavais), I have discovered that mine is the more mature of three I follow (or is it just that mine is more incomprehensible??).

Thelwall’s rarely updated Webometrics:

Holmberg’s original Webometrics.fi:

Whereas Webometric Thoughts comes in with a relatively respectable:

Maybe quantitative methodologies do have a few limitations.

Nb. Holmberg’s latest blog incarnation webometrics.fi/blog receives a more respectable ‘junior high school’ ranking, but I live with the expectation that future posts will drag it back down :-) .

November 28, 2007

Are Mashable’s standards slipping?

Filed under: Kevin Rose,Mashable,mobile web — admin @ 11:30 am

I have subscribed to the Mashable feed for quite a while now, but lately I feel as though there has been a downturn in the quality of the posts. Surely today’s “Kevin Rose: Mobile Web is the Next Big Thing” is a particularly low point. If someone had said that mobile web would be the next big thing in the pre-WAP days it would have been a novel proposition worthy of note, but now?

The mobile web has finally reached user’s expectations, and as such it seems a bit late to describe it as the ‘next big thing’. My hope for the mobile web is that there will be a new group of innovators that will be wise enough to ignore their own press. The factor that differentiates between the most successful and the rest of us is less to do with ability and more to do with, for want of a better term, luck.

November 27, 2007

Google gDisk

Filed under: Google,gDisk — admin @ 2:25 pm

Google plans a remote storage service

Am I the only person who deliberately avoids many of Google’s services, however good they are, in an attempt to temper the beast’s power?

Single on-demand player for BBC, ITV and Channel 4!!!

Filed under: 4OD,BBC,ITV,iPlayer — admin @ 1:52 pm

The BBC’s iPlayer, Channel 4′s 4OD, and the streaming content from ITV.com have fundamentally changed my TV habits; about the only programme I now watch when broadcast is ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’ (available from 4OD, but for a price). Unfortunately however the iPlayer and 4OD don’t work perfectly, with the iPlayer being especially erratic (occassionally having a frenzy that eats up all the processing power), and the two downloaded services often rub each other up the wrong way as they use similar technologies. Hopefully a single player will solve many of the current problems and will increase adoption of video on-demand.

Whilst a Mashable posting has a little bit of a whinge about the use of DRM, compatibility, and UK only access, it seems be missing the bigger picture, as TechCrunch states “Ultimately the biggest winner from the deal will be the British viewer who will have unparalleled access to legal TV content online in the one spot.”

DRM is a necessity in the world of broadcast television, as is the restricting of access on a national basis, overcoming these boundaries are years away and will require unprecedented international cooperation (DRM-free music is a piece of cake in comparison). Compatibility will come with time, but it makes sense to start with the dominant system.

I did notice one comment on the TechCrunch site whinging about the BBC TV licence (and I am sure there will be more to come), so in the interests of keeping the balance, I would like to point out that I would willingly pay an increase in the TV licence!

November 26, 2007

UK limited to receiving 250 twittering texts

Filed under: SMS,Twitter — admin @ 12:28 pm

I was shocked when I first read that Americans pay to receive texts the other week, although it has helped to explain why there have been many US-based sites for sending texts from the web, and few based in the UK. It is claimed that because of this Twitter is reducing the number of SMS messages that are Twittered to your phone to 250 in the.

However, whilst it is not the norm in the UK, it is possible to subscribe to certain services that will charge you every time you receive a text at a higher rate(e.g., certain news and horoscope services). Rather than limiting the Twitter service to a fixed number it would be better if you could get the first 250 free, and then if you wanted you could allow messages from a specific sub-set of feeds to continue being sent at a premium rate. Whilst you may not be willing to get the headlines from the Beeb at 25p a shot, you may happily pay to find out what your mates are up to.

Freedom of Speech

Filed under: Mashable,YouTube,free speech — admin @ 9:57 am

I have never particularly been a fan of absolute freedom of speech, I believe that too often such a policy provides a platform for the more disgusting elements of society (Oxford Union hang your head in shame) and we need to impose certain limitations. Whilst most people would agree with certain limitations, for these limitations to be acceptable they have to be the limitations we impose.

Few complain about the deletion of hardcore pornography or racist hate speeches from YouTube, and any who do defend such rights are idiots, but these values are based on what is acceptable behaviour in the West. Other cultures have different values and ideas of acceptable behaviour, most more conservative, but some potentially more liberal. Is it any more acceptable for us impose our values, than for a more liberal society to impose their values on us?

Mashable draws attention to the ‘hypocritical’ YouTube censorship in Taiwan, but when we accept such censorship in the West we should be careful about who we call hypocritical.

November 23, 2007

National internet archives have a long way to go

Archiving the web is massive job, and whilst the Internet Archive does as good a job as can be expected from a single centralised organisation, there really is a need for better national web archives. I am brought to the beginnings of a little rant by ResourceShelf highlighting Canada’s new government web archives. Whilst I am sure that this will do a great job of archiving the Canadian government’s web sites, it is a drop in the ocean of the number of Canadian web sites that could and should be kept, and seems an awfully long time coming.

However the British really don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about archives, as our own archive is a particularly sorry affair, based on the crawls of less that 3,000 web sites. Rather than following the route of the Canadian web site and covering a particular domain exhaustively, it chooses instead to select various sites (with permissions of web owners) of interest to the consortium members. As they say themselves “there is a danger that invaluable scholarly, cultural and scientific resources will be lost to future generations”, personally I feel these archives do little to stop the vast majority of resources being lost.

We wouldn’t accept a national library that contains such a pitiful selection of books, but somehow we allow such pathetic web archives to continue. In the UK I would like to see:
-The British Library given the right to copy every web page, in the same way as it has the right to a copy of every book (there should be no need to ask for permission and selection misses too much).
-It should be provided with the expertise and money to archive the whole of the .uk domain.
-If necessary, to appease those who confuse the public world of the web with the private mutterings of a conversation and thoughts of a diary, it should allow pages to (on request) be deep-archived* for a period of time rather than permanently deleted.

Whilst I am sure that institutions such as the British Library are trying to improve the UK’s web archive, the current outputs seem remarkably underwhelming for a supposedly rich nation at the forefront of the world’s knowledge-economy.

*deep-archived…I couldn’t think of a term to describe something that was in the archive but not public, private seems to have different connotations.

4G Surf – The Eee PC that stops you looking like a girl

Filed under: Asus,Eee PC,RM minibook — admin @ 11:51 am

Engadget note that there is now an even cheaper version of the Eee PC available, with a smaller battery and without a web cam. Whilst they note that this new version is only available in black, for someone who is constantly getting the sort of looks that suggest I have just stolen some child’s toy I think this is a blessing.

November 20, 2007

Electric Etiquette

Filed under: Eee PC,RM minibook,laptops,wifi — admin @ 3:24 pm

Whilst laptops allow you to work on the move in numerous different locations, not all laptops are created equal, and whilst the RM minibook (aka the Eee PC) allows for the most mobile of movement, it doesn’t have the greatest battery (just two or three hours). So once my battery is dead, or on its way out, can I syphon off electricity from the premises I am in? Rather than a one rule fits all situation, it seems to depend on numerous different factors: the role of the premises; whether it offers wifi; whether the wifi is free; and whether the plugs are easily accessible.

Whilst certain public institutions such as some public and university libraries actively make plugs easily accessible, thus encouraging laptop use, others have made no such accommodation, just having one or two scattered around the walls as if the laptop revolution had never occurred. But what about those places where they are aware of users laptop needs, where they advertise their wifi access as a selling point? If I am paying to access wifi in Starbucks can I plug-in? But what about if I am in one of the increasing number of places that offer free wifi? Do I have the same rights?

As always rights come with responsibilities, and laptop users have a responsibility to not cause accidents by trailing cables across gangways or play video or music without headphones, but do we always have to ask about our rights or can some be assumed?

In a climate where more and more places are offering free wifi, actively advertising the fact that the institution doesn’t mind you using their plugs would be enough to persuade me to use one place over another. I would love to know if there had been some sort of survey of attitudes to electricity use.

November 19, 2007

Why Kindle can bugger off:

Filed under: Kindle,ebooks,publishing — admin @ 9:43 am

Dedicated ebook readers have come and gone, although the buzz surrounding Kindle would seem to indicate that Amazon’s forthcoming addition to the market is liable to make a bit of a splash. Whilst it may make certain inroads, we are a long way from the death of the traditional book, and personally I won’t be buying a dedicated ebook reader anytime soon.

Dedicated ebook readers have always been a hard sell. By separating the content from the reader (the traditional book nicely packages the two together), the consumer has a large initial outlay with few additional benefits. Yes the Kindle can hold hundreds of books, and has a long battery life, but would I really want to be sitting in the bath with it? Or on the beach? Could I throw it across the room in frustration? Or spill coffee on it? Whilst the technology has improved, they are still struggling to create something that matches the durability of the traditional book.

“I’ve actually asked myself, ‘Why do I love these physical objects?’ ” says Bezos. ” ‘Why do I love the smell of glue and ink?’ The answer is that I associate that smell with all those worlds I have been transported to. What we love is the words and ideas.”

I don’t doubt that part of the reason people love the physical objects is the association with the words and ideas, but there is also the love of the book as an object. An object that can be passed from one person to another. An object that is forever associated with a particular time or place with the marks and bookmarks seemingly forever embedded in it. The web is filled with more words and ideas than my personal library ever will be, but whilst I would be annoyed at the loss of my computer or internet access, I would mourn the passing of my library.

There are similarities between the music industry and book industry but we should be careful in taking the comparisons too far. Within the music industry there has always been a separation between content and player, and whilst CDs offered an enhanced sound quality over vinyl, they were never particularly loved in the same way and their passing wasn’t missed as much. Books are loved as physical objects.

There are without doubt occasions when an ebook reader will be of more use than the traditional book, but for the majority such occasions will be few and far between and the reader will be better served by their mobile phone or mini-laptop. Technology can bring advantaged to the book industry, but I much more eagerly await the appearance of high quality print-on-demand facilities in local bookshops than ebook readers.

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