Webometric Thoughts

April 29, 2008

Social Media Disorders

Filed under: addiction,social web — admin @ 8:33 am

There was an interesting blog post at the Online Journalism Blog about social media addicts and some of the associated syndromes:
-Comment Guilt
-RSS Reader Sisyphus Complex
-Twitter Rage
-Twitterhoeia
-Six Degrees of Seperation Syndrome
-Plugin/Update Cofusion
-FOOcamp Anxiety

Whilst ‘RSS Reader Sisyphus Complex’ is my only specifically identified syndrome, I do suffer from variations of some of the others. Specifically:
-Post Guilt – Rather than guilt at not commenting on other people’s blogs, I must admit to publishing a lot of low quality posts.
-Publish Post Rage – The delay between clicking on the ‘publish post’ button and the publishing of the post can feel like hours. This always seems to occur when you have made a mistake and want to change your post.
-F-ing Stupid Computer Confusion – If only my time loss was limited to plugins and updates, on so many occasions everything in the computer world seems to conspire against me. Two days ago I spent 5 hours trying to transfer my Endnote references to CiteULike: they still reside solely on Endnote. Yesterday I spent 2 hours on a browser problem my girlfriend was having: the problem has yet to be resolved.

In defense of Twitterhoeia, and it’s associated cousin bloggerhoeia, sometimes it is the mundane that actually piques the interest of others in the online community. Often I find that the well-thought-out essay sized posts get little response, whereas the mundane posts become a forum for discussion.

Most of the syndromes seem to be driven by a need to be the centre of the world, to know everything and everyone, and be recognised by our peers as such. The online world encourages this narcissism as we are able to put ‘concrete’ figures to so many of our actions: how many friends we have, follows, visitors. First step on the road to recovery: dump the site analytics. It is too late for me, but there may be hope for some of you.

April 28, 2008

Wii Fit Diary – Day 4

Filed under: wii fit — admin @ 8:00 am

Despite accumulating the maximum three hours a day for the first three days, as well as an hour this morning, I still have not opened up all the exercises: 3 Muscle Workouts, and one Aerobic Exercise to go. However, on reaching a total of ten hours, you do exchange your silver piggybank for a gold piggybank:

Will the gold pig help me get fit? Doubtful.

Day 3 Results
Weight: 14st 7lbs
Body Mass Index: 26.91
Wii Fit Age: 34

Day 4 Results
Weight: 14st 4
Body Mass Index: 26.50
Wii (impressively)Fit Age: 28

Whilst day three results saw a strange step in the wrong direction, they now seem to be going in the right direction again.

April 26, 2008

Wii Fit Diary – Day 2

Filed under: wii fit — admin @ 10:26 am

Unsurprisingly my weight and BMI have not moved much from yesterday (and any change can be put down to a difference in the weight of my clothes), however, my Wii Fit age has fallen astronomically:
Weight: 14st 4lbs
Body Mass Index: 26.50
Wii (not-too-un)Fit Age: 31
Does the sudden improvement reflect an overnight improvement in my fitness, or does it reflect the meaningless of the Wii Fit age? In partial defence of the Wii Fit age, the test was based on balance, and even if my balance hasn’t improved much, I have probably improved at the balance games after spending most of yesterday playing them.

New sections of the game open up according to how long you have spent playing on the Wii Fit, and after accruing the maximum 3hrs yesterday (which actually takes nearer to 4 or 5 hours) all the nine balance games have now opened up.

HeadingSki SlalomSki JumpTable TiltTightrope TensionBalance BubblePenguin SlideSnowboard SlalomZazen
My personal favourites are Heading, and Ski Jump. The worst, without a doubt, is Zazen: you sit on the Wii Board and mustn’t move whilst you watch a candle with a butterfly flying around it! Very disappointing to have Zazen open up after reaching the 3hr quota.

Today I will be trying to include more of the muscle workouts, unfortunately they are not as much fun.

April 25, 2008

Open Data – post 2

Filed under: Twitter,frequency cloud,open data,word tree — admin @ 2:59 pm

I posted earlier about open data, and included an example of the sort of network diagram Many Eyes allows. Following this, I decided to see the sort of things it could do with some text, and uploaded some data I had collected from Twitter back in February.

Not a particularly great set of data, but something interesting to play about with, with word frequency clouds:

And a word tree:

I will definatley be keeping the potential of these tools in mind as I collect bits and pieces from the web in the weeks ahead.

Wii Fit Diary – Day 1

Filed under: wii fit — admin @ 2:22 pm

At 12.45 Wii Fit arrived from Argos:

I decided against including either film or photos of me working out on the Wii Fit, so if somehow you don’t know what one is, here is the trailer:

The game consists of ‘over 40′ activities, falling within four categories: balance games, aerobic exercise, yoga, and muscle workouts. As is so often the case with games these days, some of the sections only open up after you have spent a certain amount of time on the Wii. So, first impressions: great fun, although I have chosen to spend most of my time on the balance games, so whether the Wii Fit will manage to actually get me fit, only time can tell. The feature that is likely to keep you coming back (as opposed to the DVD that you leave on the shelf), is that it keeps a track of your weight and ‘Wii Fit Age’ over time. My starting stats:
Weight: 14st 5lbs
Body Mass Index: 26.68 (i.e., overweight)
Wii (un)Fit Age: 42
The Wii and I have had a discussion, and agreed that I need to lose one stone.

Open Data: A link diagram

Filed under: link analysis,network diagram,open data — admin @ 10:13 am

One of the problems with the web is that it is just too damned big: just as you think you are uptodate with everything in one area, you suddenly realise that there is a whole other area that you has totally passed you by. For me that area is Open Data: the practice of making data freely available to everyone. Whilst I had heard a few rumblings, I didn’t really appreciate how much was going on, or some of the tools that were available, until reading an article in the last issue of Online Magazine. Webometricians create massive amounts of data, and whilst we know we should do more, we generally use the data we gather as the subject of academic papers, or blog posts, then it sits on our hardrives until we forget where it was from and what it represents (personally I have gigabytes worth of data in text files that is now totally meaningless to me).

In future I will definately make a concerted effort to try and make data available on Open Data sites (whether people like it or not). Not only due to the movement’s worthy ethos, but for the selfish reasons of a useful repository and the benefits of some useful tools. Of the many open data sites my first experimentation has been with IBM’s Many Eyes (http://services.alphaworks.ibm.com/manyeyes/home), which, whilst suffering from a few bugs, has some great visualisation applications, including network diagrams:

This particular network comes from my, ever-so-successful, PhD thesis. It shows the interlinking between the web sites of 64 members of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, as seen through the Microsoft Live Search API (in the glory days of access to both the linkdomain and linkfromdomain operators). Obviously not particular awe-inspiring here, but earth-shattering in the context of 130 other pages.

Additional open data sites include Data360, Swivel, Freebase, and many more. Whilst I’m sure that different people will find different sites more appropriate to their needs, the main thing is that we (espicially academics) start getting the data out there…and more than the off the cuff 95 lines I uploaded for the above diagram.

xRank: Another frivolous ranking

Filed under: Microsoft,xRank — admin @ 8:00 am

Hot on the heels of the BBC’s Sound Index, Microsoft have announced the launch of xRank, a ranking of celebrities by search volume. Whilst there were a few negative comments about the sort of music that made it to the top of the Sound Index, the mere existence of xRank is a damning indictment of society. Whilst it has a certain curiosity value the first time, what sort of person will regularly return? Maybe just the celebrities and their stalkers.

The good news is that, unlike the decidedly flawed Sound Index, Cliff Richard is in the xRank index: currently at 97 after a sudden fall of 54 places.

April 24, 2008

Google Me: The Movie

Filed under: Google,YouTube — admin @ 8:05 am

As well as the arrival of my Wii Fit (hopefully), tomorrow will also see the launch of Google Me: The Movie on YouTube. Jim Killeen Google’s his own name, then travels the world meeting other Jim Killeens…sound familiar? Obviously Killeen is a massive Dave Gorman fan, mixing up Gorman’s Googlewhack adventures and Are you Dave Gorman? into one YouTube film.

What is of interest is that the film will be shown for free on YouTube (‘for a limited time only’). Which, if Andrew Keen’s figures are anything to go by, is unlikely to make Killeen a fortune. It will however provide a documentary that doesn’t seem to be particularly original a lot more publicity than it would otherwise have got.

Maybe we will see more films publicising themselves like this in the future: show for a couple of days for free, then let word of mouth drive traffic to the cinemas/DVDs. How much does a Hollywood blockbuster spend on publicity? How much would they lose by making it available on YouTube for a day or two? Obviously Killeen has nothing to lose in comparison to the millions a big studio would be risking, but it would be interesting to see one give it a try.

So, will I take a break from sculpting my body on the Wii fit to watch Google Me The Movie? Possibly, but it will have to be better than the rather annoying web site that goes with it.

April 23, 2008

Wii Fit: Argos Changes the Rules

Filed under: wii fit — admin @ 7:49 pm

I have always had misgivings about ordering my Wii Fit from Argos. Whilst all the indicators seem to suggest that I will be getting a Wii Fit on Friday, they have changed the delivery time from between 12pm-6pm to between 8am and 6pm…at least according to the letters and phone calls that I keep getting!

OK, it is only the one phone call, and the one letter, but nonetheless very unexpected when ordering goods online. Is this over-the-top ‘customer service’ a reflection of their not knowing how to behave in an online environment, or is it because they have changed the delivery times? If it’s because of the delivery times then they could at least include an apology.

…on the subject to the Wii, Asda had Sega Superstars Tennis and Sonic and the Secret Rings for £15 each today…a reminder that it’s not always cheaper online.

April 22, 2008

The Google Monopoly

Filed under: Google,Monopoly — admin @ 9:28 am

Every day I seem to come across some story that reminds me how much I hate the Google monopoly. Today that story was at Search Engine Roundtable: Google advice on linking out from your web site.

The original advice was provided in a Google Groups thread, where someone was concerned about linking to their own sites in case it incurred the wrath of google:

I understand that GOOGLE does not like the exchange of links solely for the purpose of increasing page rank. Can it accurately determine which sites are abusing their guidelines? I have a number of websites that deal with similar products and services and I am reluctant to exchange links because these sites might run the risk of being penalised. I know that I can include rel=”nofollow” to overcome this problem but am I being over cautious?

The advice provided was not particularly offensive or restrictive, but what bothers me is that so many people have to be concerned about what one search engine thinks. If Google started penalising links to affiliated web sites, people would take down those links; if Google promoted sites that were covered in leprechauns, people would cover their sites in leprechauns. In a healthy search engine marketplace we would not have the need to be overly concerned about the criteria of any single search engine.

Personally, about 80-90% of my traffic comes from Google. Luckily, as my income is not derived from my web activities and I don’t need to be overly concerned about Google’s ranking and happily link to my allotment blog which has absolutely nothing to do with the world of technology (except for the fact that it is a blog).

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