Webometric Thoughts

November 16, 2007

Hey!Nielsen: What is the point?

Filed under: nielsen,social web — admin @ 5:08 pm

Whilst I enjoyed Nielsen Netrating’s talk yesterday, I am less impressed with their latest offering, Hey!Nielsen, which I was pointed in the direction of by the Data Mining blog. Basically it combines a social network with the opportunity to offer opinions on TV, films, music, web sites and people, with the promise of your opinions potentially influencing the media world as the media pays close attention to Nielsen’s findings.

Whilst it is a nice enough site, and offers the opportunity for a widget of your opinions to be placed on your blog or web site, its a bit of a one trick pony, and that trick is not interesting enough to make me come back again and again. Whilst I enjoy the opportunity to knock Facebook and Google, if I really want I can do it just as easily in my blog. Personally I think Nielsen would have been better off developing methods of gathering the data people are already placing all over the web rather than trying to make a subset enter data in their own specific format.

November 15, 2007

Facebook fatigue and Poke 1.0

Filed under: facebook,poke 1.0,poke1.0 — admin @ 3:57 pm

In the heat of summer when I was an avid Facebook user, before the fatigue kicked in, I signed up for the Poke 1.0 conference, an afternoon conference on the topic of Facebook. I am pleased to say that despite my own fatigue with Facebook, the conference was definitely worth the train fare (and not just because the university paid for it).

For me personally the highlight (with just the one lecture still to go) was the initial (primarily quantitative) talk on the use of Facebook in the UK, basically according to Neilsen’s Netratings whichever way you cut the cake its the UK’s biggest social network. They provided many more details than is usually provided in the press releases of sites such as Compete and with the promise of slides and videos of the conference being placed on the London Knowledge Labs web site, it will be worth looking up.

Whilst the commercial speakers were giving quantitative details, the academics seem to be stuck with qualitative data. Stuck is probably a bit of a harsh term, after all qualitative is a recognised methodological choice. I do wonder however how much is choice and how much is the lack of access to the quantitative data. There seems to be a need for greater collaboration between different departments and between commercial organisations and academia.

November 14, 2007

2 billion Flickr photos!

Filed under: Flickr — admin @ 5:26 pm

However much you may question the quality of many of the Flickr photos, and whether the vast majority of photos are worth the space they take up (however cheap it is), there is no getting away from the fact that 2 billion is massive number.

The 2 billionth photo sums up so much of Flickr’s stuff, pleasant enough in a pseudo-arty fashion. Personally I would loved to have seen the 2 billionth photo to be a big fat man sitting in his pants with absolutely no artistic merit at all….but maybe it was and Flickr just juggled the figures a little bit for the momentous occasion…but who could blame them?

Life’s a bitch…and then you marry one

Filed under: BBC — admin @ 4:50 pm

Usually coming across the above oft-used title would make me groan with despair at the state of modern society, but seeing it on the front page of the BBC is tantamount to having some great maiden aunt swearing at the christmas dinner table (the actual story is merely a diversion).

Pay Facebook? The adverts are the sanest part.

Filed under: facebook — admin @ 10:11 am

AllFacebook have pointed to a Facebook poll which asked Facebook users the question:

Would you pay $3.99 a month to not ever see ads on Facebook?

Unsurprisingly 95% answered with a ‘no’. Whilst there may be a bit of quibling about the suitability of the wording of the question, the result is far from surprising.

The average Facebook page is filled with rubbish, people throwing sheep, buying beers, being bitten by zombies (or werewolves or vampires), with the list of pointless applications growing on a daily basis. Scrolling amongst the rubbish the adverts are often a welcome moment of sanity, a welcome exit strategy from the turmoil of Facebook.

Anyway, even if you did pay for an ad-free Facebook, there would still be numerous ads included in the embedded applications. Only a fool would pay.

November 12, 2007

TWiT: Are you kidding me?

Filed under: podcasts,technology — admin @ 1:08 pm

I just read on Social Media that TWiT(This Week in Tech) have been awarded podcast of the year at the Weblog Awards.If this is truely the best podcast out there it is not surprising that Yahoo recently closed down their podcast directory. This is not to say that TWiT is not a good podcast, merely that even amongst the limited number of podcasts I listen to, it doesn’t manage to stand head and shoulders above the others.

As I have previously mentioned, since getting an N95 I have had a renewed interest in podcasts as I can now download them directly to the device rather than having to mess about with the PC. Since then I have regularly listened to 4 technology-focused podcasts, as well as trying a fifth, and out of the five I would probably put TWiT at about number 3 or 4.

1. Digital Planet. Rather than a true podcast, this is one of the BBC’s world service radio programmes that is made available as a podcast each week. Whereas most of the technological podcasts available focus very much on the western individual, or at least see the world from the perspective of the western individual, the Digital Planet team discusses technological stories with people all over the world; as likely to discuss GPS systems in some rainforest as the latest Apple innovation. A scope and quality unsurprisingly beyond the budget of the average podcast.
2. Crave. Unlike Digital Planet, Crave lives up to our expectations of a podcast: a bunch of people sitting around in a studio discussing what they are interested in, in this case technology and gadgets. Admittedly this is not a podcast for the po-faced with their decidedly teenage sense of humour (although they themselves are not teenagers), but they seeem to know enough to manage to persuade me to buy an RM minibook, a decision I am very happy with.
3. TWiT. TWiT is best summed up as a long (regularly over an hour) podcast involving a bunch of people showing varying degrees of righteous indignation at the week’s technological news. Whilst the people involved in the discussion have strong views, and are by no means fools, on occassion I can find their technological-political views annoying, seemingly stuck somewhere around 2001, where Apple is the plucky little guy fighting the tyranical Microsoft, and Google really lives by the philosophy of ‘do no evil’. To me the technological sphere has far more grey areas than this show acknowledges.
4. FrequencyCast. A monthly podcast on UK TV and technology. Very much a podcast for the UK resident, and unlikely to be of interest to anyone anywhere else. That however is not the reason it is number 4 on my list, that decision was based on the shows format of the technological geek constantly explaining things to the technophobe getting a bit tiresome after a while.
5. Mike Tech Show. Described as “Technology and computer podcast discussing cool sites, software, tips and tricks that will make you more productive at home and work.” Maybe I caught a particularly boring episode, or maybe it caught me on an off day, but I only managed to listen to about 2 minutes before turning this one off. One that I should probably give another chance before placing it at the bottom of the pile.

I think it is more likely that TWiT’s particular subject and brand of technological politics appealed to the particular voting audience, rather than TWiT having the podcast of the year. If I can think of better podcasts within the same field, then I am sure there are likely to be numerous better ones across different genres.

November 10, 2007

RM Minibook (a.k.a. Asus Eee PC) improvements suggestions

Filed under: Asus,Eee PC,RM minibook — admin @ 10:24 am

Engadget have posed the question “How would you change Asus’ Eee PC?” Since getting my Minibook (a nicer term than Eee PC) on Tuesday I have given this subject a lot of thought, but in truth, in the spirit of a stripped-down basic mini-laptop the Minibook does a great job. A lot of the suggestions on Engadget reflect a wish for something other than a stripped-down basic mini-laptop.

The most popular suggestions seem to be giving it a bigger screen, faster processing chip, longer lasting battery and (unsurprisingly) making it even cheaper. Obviously all these additions would be welcome, but do seem to be moving away from the market the Minibook is aimed at (with the exception of the price), making it more expensive and probably larger. The one suggestion that I thought most lost the point of the Minibook was the addition of a DVD player/recorder! Personally that one was lost on me.

However there were some additional suggestions that I did like the idea of:TV out (the Wii has taught me that YouTube on the TV can be a much more sociable experience), and the introduction of a swivel screen (surely that would be both simple and useful).

As for my own suggestions, well, after a week I would have to say that the one thing I really miss is a physical volume control. The best thing about the Minibook is its portability. Which means I often find myself in crowded libraries or coffee bars only to realise I haven’t turned the sound off when sound starts blasting out from a web page! A physical volume control is far quicker and more user friendly. But all in all, a great product.

November 9, 2007

Reassessing my blogroll

Filed under: blogging,blogroll — admin @ 9:36 am

The blogroll, the list of notable blogs that adorns the side of many blogs (including my own), can be a rather static affair. When I started this blog I merely placed a list of blogs I considered noteworthy down the side of the page, and left it at that; to the best of my memory I have not added any new blogs to the blogroll, and have taken no blogs off. In truth however I am regularly coming across new and interesting blogs, and have therefore decided to start emphasising the ‘roll’ part of the blogroll: adding new blogs that I come across to the top of the blogroll, and taking old ones away from the bottom, never having a blog roll of more than ten.

Limiting the length of the blogroll gives the opportunity for the more obscure blogs to stand out, and who really needs to be directed towards engadget or mashable anyway?

As such my blogroll now reflects an eclectic set of obscure sites and mainstream sites that I have only just started subscribing to.

November 7, 2007

Web 5.0: Where we live on the web

Filed under: blogosphere,web 2.0,web 3.0,web 4.0,web 5.0 — admin @ 4:17 pm

Everyone seems to want to be the person to define a web number, first web 3.0 went, and now web 4.0 has gone:

If Web 2.0 is the rounded corners and the Internet as a platform, and Web 3.0 is seamless integration of the various tools built on the platform, Web 4.0 must be algorithmic incorporation of that data into something useful.

So I thought I would get in and define web 5.0:
Web 5.0 is when quantum computing provides us the opportunity to upload ourselves to the web rather than just our data.
Obviously there may be a few more technical stages before we can solve the planet’s overcrowding problem by living in Second Life 2.0, but what is the point of having a decimal point if we don’t use it? Dewey would be turning in his grave.

Whilst there will be those who say that people won’t want to be uploaded, I think it is equally likely that there are people who don’t want a fully integrated and documented life with every aspect detailed and tagged! Too often the blogosphere focuses on technological capabilities and how geeks would like to use the web, rather than how the mass want to use it.

Even if the web does develop in the way people predict, do these changes really necessitate new web numbers? If we accept that the move from web 1.0 to web 2.0 is a paradigm shift in the way many people view the web, then surely the introduction of the terms ‘web 3.0′ and ‘web 4.0′ require equally large changes in perception; the proposed definitions seem more like tinkering round the edges.

RM Minibook: The extremely portable computer

Filed under: Eee PC,RM minibook — admin @ 7:31 am

Last week I crossed the line from being a normal person with a healthy interest in computers to a computer geek. This was based on two purchases:

1)A ‘TV Box’, basically £70 so I could plug my mobile phone into the computer monitor (for streaming sky sports).
2)The Eee PC (advertised as the RM minibook in the UK).

The Eee PC is not of itself very geeky, but it has only just come out, and I did find myself wanting it as soon as I heard about it. As yet you can’t just walk into your local PC World and buy one, rather it is necessary to have it delivered, a fact made worse by having millions of Eee PC posts appearing in my RSS feeds over the weekend. All taunting me with “I’ve got one and yours hasn’t arrived yet!” (e.g., engadget)

Previously I have never found myself particularly drawn to getting a laptop. They are usually either too large to make them useful for carrying around all the time, or very expensive. However, the size and price of the linux-based Eee PC blows away my previous objections, and after messing about with it yesterday I can say that it is a welcome addition to my growing family of computers.

It basically fulfills the average users laptop needs: Wi-fi enabled, web cam, microphone, Open Office, etc. Whilst you probably wouldn’t want it as first computer, for a second one (or third) you can’t go wrong.

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