Finally, after weeks of waiting, my girlfriend’s Eee PC 901 arrived this morning. First impressions of the 901 are that it’s very impressive; rather than a cheap budget laptop, it looks and feels like a small quality laptop. Whereas the 701 seemed to be a good way of Linux spreading out to the masses, the 901 with Windows XP is likely to slow Linux’s spread. Comparing the Eee 901 with my (rather aged) 701 finds that the 901 just about wins a boot-up contest.
Yes, the 701 has been around the block a bit, and the 901 Linux is likely to beat the 901 XP, but with the 901 XP booting in around 35 seconds, its seems likely that people will go for the operating system they are used to.
Both the ReadWriteWeb and the Online Journalism Blog have posted about Browzmi, and it is definately a site worth posting about. Basically you browse within the Browzmi web page, allowing you to see where your friends or everyone else is surfing. I have always liked the idea of collaborative surfing, and many years ago used to mess about with Chatsum which was more chat focused, however Chatsum never got the number of users necessary to really make it work. Hopefully Browzmi will as it a nice site which doesn’t require any plugins.
…not much of a review, but get on there and try it yourself
Whilst having a look at the new Blinx Remote this morning (via The Guardian), I suddenly realised that I no longer watch ITV (with the exception of watching the over-paid tax-dodging Formula 1 drivers). Over the last couple of years my TV habits have changed beyond all recognition, and ITV has failed to keep pace.
First I started watching TV programmes online. Whilst 4OD and the iPlayer both offered downloads, ITV offered streaming which was not particularly practical as I started to suffer from my old ISP’s throttling measures.
Then I subscribed to Virgin TV which has given me the iPlayer and 4OD programmes on my TV with Virgin’s TV Catchup: Anytime with no download problems. Unfortunately ITV hasn’t signed up, and despite my best efforts I couldn’t find any indication online that they plan to.
Whilst I find myself streaming the BBC on my Eee PC whilst doing the cooking, catching up on the TV, and even watching live for those can’t wait programmes (such as last night’s Summer Heights High), ITV has been relegated to point where I don’t even know what is on anymore.
Whilst I have never been a fan of ITV, it is important to have a competitive domestic market, so they need to start catching up!
Cuil.com is the new search engine that, as ReadWriteWeb point out, got rather a lot of publicity for its launch. Its publicity seems to be based on the fact that it is run by some ex-Googlers, and that it makes some big claims about the size of the index. However, I seem to be missing the feature that will make it a Google killer. Whilst wanting to be part of the next generation of search engines, it seems to be playing a rather old fashioned game by going for the simple interface and bragging about the size of their index.
Most search engines gave up index-bragging years ago. Beyond a certain number of pages the size of an index becomes quite meaningless for all but the most obscure of queries. If anything a larger index may hamper the results as more low quality pages will be included. It is best to focus on a quality crawl rather than the biggest possible crawl.
Whilst the public love a simple interface (they are simple creatures), it brings nothing new to the market. Whatever way you try to rank the data, whether PageRank or BrowseRank, there is only so much you can do with a simple keyword search: people will continue to use homographs and fail to use appropriate search terms.
Whilst you can only really tell how good or bad a ranking algorithm is by using it regularly, first impressions of Cuil are not good. A simple search for webometrics fails to find any of the three main webometrics blogs, whilst the Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group at the University of Wolverhampton is coupled with a photo of a guy in a turban. No one in the group wheres a turban. Cuil is definitely no Google killer. These days there are a million and one reasons to go to the Google site besides search, and any new entrant into the market needs to offer something outstanding to break the monopoly. Cuil has nothing.
This morning another new book dropped through my letterbox, The Hyperlinked Society: Questioning Connections in the Digital Age . I came across it and ordered it on Friday, only to read a post in David Weinberger’s blog on Saturday pointing out that it is available online for free. Would I have bought the paper copy anyway? Probably, but this post is just so that other webometricians can make a more informed choice. Unsurprisingly I have not had the chance to read the book yet, however the first line of the blurb managed to annoy me slightly:
“Links” are among the most basic – and most unexamined – features of online life.
Whilst I appreciate that blurbs are there to sell books, that particular line is just rubbish (or rather the part of the bull they had sold-out of on a drunken visit to a restaurant in Madrid). As someone who has had to read some of the thousands of academic papers that examine web links, and having personally spent weeks on end examining the meaning of web links themselves, I feel I should point out that they are far from being among the most unexamined features of online life. They are not glitzy or glamourous, and they don’t get the public over-excited, but they are definitely examined, if not among one of the most examined.
Despite this slight annoyance the book looks an interesting and quick read and, despite being about 10 years behind on my reading, I will probably put it to the top of my “To Read” pile.
Search Engine Land posts about Microsoft’s new ranking algorithm, BrowseRank, based on user browsing behaviour rather than web links. Whilst it seems reasonable to presume that BrowseRank will produce better results than PageRank, the question is whether people will willingly/knowingly share their browsing data, and if they do, which search engine they would choose to share their data with. Whilst Microsoft may not have been a particularly trusted brand in the past, they do seem to be putting the past behind them.
The finishing of a PhD is more of a whimper than a bang. It has been seven months since I handed in my thesis, and despite having had only the most minor of revisions (total time approximately 4hrs), I have only just received the certificate for my masterpiece: Whilst there are often complaints about the inability of government to work as effectively as ‘the marketplace’, we should all be grateful that academia is not in charge of the country; nothing would happen for years on end.
As many weeks have also passed since I sent my thesis to the University’s electronic repository, and it still hasn’t appeared online, I have decided to put it online myself. Title:Web Manifestations of Knowledge-based Innovation Systems Abstract: Innovation is widely recognised as essential to the modern economy. The term knowledge-based innovation system has been used to refer to innovation systems which recognise the importance of an economy’s knowledge base and the efficient interactions between important actors from the different sectors of society. Such interactions are thought to enable greater innovation by the system as a whole. Whilst it may not be possible to fully understand all the complex relationships involved within knowledge-based innovation systems, within the field of informetrics bibliometric methodologies have emerged that allows us to analyse some of the relationships that contribute to the innovation process. However, due to the limitations in traditional bibliometric sources it is important to investigate new potential sources of information. The web is one such source. This thesis documents an investigation into the potential of the web to provide information about knowledge-based innovation systems in the United Kingdom.
Within this thesis the link analysis methodologies that have previously been successfully applied to investigations of the academic community (Thelwall, 2004a) are applied to organisations from different sections of society to determine whether link analysis of the web can provide a new source of information about knowledge-based innovation systems in the UK. This study makes the case that data may be collected ethically to provide information about the interconnections between web sites of various different sizes and from within different sectors of society, that there are significant differences in the linking practices of web sites within different sectors, and that reciprocal links provide a better indication of collaboration than uni-directional web links. Most importantly the study shows that the web provides new information about the relationships between organisations, rather than just a repetition of the same information from an alternative source. Whilst the study has shown that there is a lot of potential for the web as a source of information on knowledge-based innovation systems, the same richness that makes it such a potentially useful source makes applications of large scale studies very labour intensive.
Obviously the above abstract will have all but the greatest dullard champing at the bit, and I have therefore made it available in both PDF and Word Document formats.
Finally Google’s Knol is launched (after months of waiting). It’s basically all about putting the author back into the publishing process, something that has been lost in the Wiki-verse.
You can never tell how these things are going to pan out until the uneducated marauding masses get involved and try to make some money out of it, so it is far too early to tell whether Knol is going to be a serious content provider or not. However, I am sure it won’t be long before academics are comparing Wikipedia and Knol pages. In fact as I type this someone out there is probably comparing two pages and hoping to make a bit of a media splash. Unfortunately I will have to wait for Knol’s ‘Webometrics’ page to appear before I can make a comparison with any sort of authority.
One last point. As Danny Sullivan emphasises, this time Google’s product is known as ‘Knol’ not ‘Google’s Knol’. Is this an attempt to hide the Google brand as we begin to suffer Google fatigue?
With pirates having fewer places to turn Virgin will undoubtedly be breathing a sigh of relief, however, everyone else (with the exception of the music industry) will continue to complain. The biggest complaint, at least in today’s newspapers, is parents suffering for their children’s misdemeanors (The Times), although I would personally spin it as ‘parents having to take responsibility for their children’. Suddenly it doesn’t seem quite so unreasonable.
Whilst the warning letters don’t bother me (I don’t illegally download music), they do seem to have some effect. The realisation that their illegal behaviour can identified and recorded seems to be enough for many people. Just the other day a fellow Virgin customer was complaining to me that they were going to have to change their music sharing habits: Obviously I was my usual sympathetic self .
The alternative to buying each song individually seems to be the proposed internet music ‘tax’ (in the words of the irrational Daily Mail), or ‘licence fee’ (in the words of the right-wing Daily Telegraph which whilst hating licences loves big business more). The proposed £30 a year doesn’t seem to excessive for a married couple with 2.4 kids, but there are some obvious concerns, such as will the licence stifle innovation as the music industry sits on its laurels, and will people still be able to buy just the odd song or album when the whole music industry is turned on its head. Apple’s iTunes would be set to lose 90% of their UK business over night; but do we really need such a business taking a cut in this day and age?
I think the letters are a step in the right direction, they are forcing a solution to be found to what is obviously a problem. If you don’t want to pay for the music then don’t buy it, but you can’t expect to have your cake and eat it too.
Almost two weeks after its launch, and I finally got around to having a look at Google’s Lively yesterday. Overall: Currently unimpressed, although the idea has potential.
Whilst it may be considered a ‘virtual world’ by some, in reality it is more of a personalised virtual chatroom, and comparisons with the likes of Second Life soon become foolish. -Whereas Second Life is a huge integrated world, Lively is a collection of individual rooms (even if some of those rooms are islands). -Whereas Second Life can be filled with whatever the mind can imagine (and script), Lively can currently only be filled with the limited selection of objects you are given. -Whereas Second Life has a thriving economy, Lively has none.
However the limitations give Lively an important advantage over Second Life, it is easy to install and takes far less processing power. And most importantly for the customer, it is FREE.
Rather than competing directly with Second Life or Meebo, Lively is staking a claim for the ground half way between the two, and I can imagine it being very successful once it becomes more customisable, which it undoubtedly will. Most organisations will be far more comfortable with the creation of an organisational-specific room/world rather than setting up shop only to have the island next door turned into a sex-shop or filled with neo-nazis. However, until it does become customisable its uses are fairly limited.