Just before Christmas [I have only just waded through my RSS feeds] the Wall Street Journal had a piece about the problems of defriending people:
Unfriending online “friends” is emerging as the latest offense in the world of social networking.
People who are so easily offended are highly unlikely to talk to me long enough to ever make it onto my “friends” list, but nonetheless my defriending decisions have occassionally been controversial:
1) My brother: defriended for having appalling taste in music and expressing it regularly in his status. 2) My girlfriend: defriended when her annoying friends’ comments started appearing in my newsfeed.
Defriending is a necessary part of the long term use of social network sites, after all, do we really want to spend the rest of our lives with a social life clogged-up with those friends we made as five year olds?
The biggest problem with the current defriending system is its secretive nature. Defriendees would probably be more accepting of a defriending if the defriender was forced to inform them of the reasons why, rather than letting them find out on their own. Defriending without telling them why just strikes me as rude. It is worth noting, however, that however well you explain why you defriended your girlfriend, she is highly unlikely to be understanding.
Yesterday, after weeks of waiting, I finally got broadband access at my new home. The first thing I did: download Donkey Kong onto the Wii’s virtual console. Ever since watching The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters a couple of weeks ago I have been waiting to download the game.
Whilst I am one of the world’s worst computer game players, by the end of the film I couldn’t help but wonder how big a score I could get if I wasted enough hours. Whilst the virtual console is not comparable with the Donkey Kong Arcade cabinet, I doubt my girlfriend would have welcomed the arcade machine into our home, and the Wii game works out to be a far more reasonable £3.50. ALso, Twin Galaxies only have two high scores listed for Donkey Kong on the Nitendo Wii Virtual Console in the PAL region. So all I have to do is beat a score of 199,900, and I will have a really obscure Donkey Kong record (I would need to beat 258,900 in the NTSC region, whilst the original arcade machine would have been 1,050,200). Game on.
There’s an interesting story at ReadWriteWeb about the journal RNA Biology insisting that authors submit a Wikipedia stub article along with their main journal article (see guidelines). Rather than a stub article in the main Wikipedia space, it is merely asking for a stub article within the author’s user space, although for some articles a main Wikipedia stub may be more appropriate. ReadWriteWeb comments:
The relationship between academia and the Wikipedia has always been an uneasy one, and it will be interesting to see how the academic community is going to react to this experiment.
With the majority of stubs being placed in user-spaces, rather than the main Wikipedia space, it is likely to be perceived as extra work with little extra benefit by academics. It will, however, hopefully encourage more academics to contribute to Wikipedia more widely, which can only be a good thing for Wikipedia.
Does the academic community have an ‘uneasy’ relationship with Wikipedia? Or merely get exasperated with some of the more crowd-happy evangelists, and those who fail to recognise its potential drawbacks. The crowd is great up to a point, but there is still a place for experts and authoritative sources.
At some point, lost in the mists of time and place that is the web, I signed up to Twingly (yet another blog search engine). I just returned to the site for the first time since signing up, as they sent me an email highlighting their new ‘blogrank’ and ‘top 100′. Whilst their blogrank isn’t worth mentioning (primarily because mine is a pathetic ‘you get 1 for turning up’), it is always interesting to see lists of the ‘top bloggers’, especially when there are such differences between the lists. The most noticeable difference is the lack of a ‘Huffington Post’ on the Twingly list; in fact it’s not even in the top 100! Seemingly Twingly still have some work to do regarding their crawling and identifying spam. One feature that is nice about Twingly is the top 100 for different languages; whilst the top-100 English language blogs is seemingly out of my reach, breaking into the top-100 Greek language blogs seems a distinct possibility. αύριο θα μάθω τα ελληνικά
…the number of homes that currently have no television licence, but that do have broadband subscription is currently estimated to be infinitesimally small.
Since moving house I find myself with the opportunity to join this ‘infinitesimally small’ group, and save myself £139.50 a year! At my previous flat I had more TV channels than I could count thanks to Virgin Media, however my new flat couldn’t have Virgin Media installed and the current TV aerial picks up a grand total of just three digital channels very badly. As such the TV set is now just used for DVDs and the Wii, I don’t live stream TV from the web but rather watch on-demand TV. I no-longer need a TV licence.
Whilst it is entirely possible that I may need a TV licence in the future (e.g., to stream a big news), that is not why I have decided to keep paying my licence. Despite recent polls finding that the moronic-majority believe the licence fee is a ‘rip-off‘, I believe it is worth it even without the ‘live’ TV. Is there a better way to start the day Radio 4? Is there a better online news service than BBC.com? Is there an on-demand TV service that reaches more devices than the iPlayer (excluding the copyright-happy-YouTube)?
The problem for the BBC is that not everyone thinks the same way as I do. People are more likely to focus on the personal saving of £139.50, rather than the national loss of a great independent broadcaster. The “infinitesimally small” group is going to increase quickly in the near future, and licensing laws need to reflect these changes. Why do you never find people campaigning for higher licence fees covering more devices??
Last night Tim Kindberg gave a very interesting talk on the subject of ‘digital-physical mashups‘, connecting the real world with the online world through QR codes and radio frequency identification (RFID). However, whilst chatting over drinks and nibbles with some people afterwards, some rather disturbing news emerged: my days as the number one QR code model (according to Google images) are numbered.
Whilst my blue QR t-shirt has successfully fought off competition from the Sun’s Keeley , the general consensus was that it would eventually lose out in a battle with Kelly Brook and the Pepsi campaign.
Losing such a battle would be particularly unfair considering Kelly’s rather simplistic description of QR codes: “you take a picture on your phone and it takes you straight to a web site” …not that I’m bitter at all.
I’ve read a couple of posts today about Muxlim, a new virtual world for Muslims (via the BBC). The stories have been non-negative, if not positive, with even the Daily Mail’s story seeming to be a verbatim press release rather than the expected ‘gone hell in an handcart as technologically literate Muslims take over the web’. But on a web which is already defined by discussions amongst like-minded individuals, is a Muslim virtual world a good idea? Before the jihadists and those damned-liberals start the name calling, let me be clear. I am not picking on a Muslim site, but rather using a Muslim site as an example of the larger problem of integrating groups that often feel marginalised from mainstream society. Virtual worlds can be particularly immersive environments, and having virtual worlds focused on marginalised groups doesn’t seem to be particularly healthy, whether this group is Muslim, Christian, gay or fascist. Rather than promoting understanding amongst different groups, homogeneous virtual worlds are likely to encourage the opinion that we are 100% right and differing opinions are not worth listening to. Whilst it is difficult to be more wrong than a white supremacist, it is nonetheless important there is dialogue so that we understand why they harbour the abhorrent views that they do.
Muxlim makes a point of stating that it is open to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, but as with all sites aimed primarily at one particular group the vast majority are likely to come from that group. Some Christians will probably appear to evangelise, in the same way as you will find some liberals in Stormfront, but the core will be Muslim.
On a more technological note. Whilst I tried to launch Muxlim, I had problems connecting to its server. Whether this is a problem with traffic, or a problem at my end (my broadband is currently provided by my mobile phone), I don’t know. From what I can see it is browser based, with all the limitations that involves. Rather than a Muslim ‘Second Life’, it is seemingly more EA-land (defunct), Lively (defunct), or YooWalk.
“The fantasy of participation” (Jodi Dean, 2008) refers to the mistaken belief that by publishing our opinions online we are in some way contributing to a public discussion on a particular topic. Without a doubt some people’s online activities do have an impact beyond a small group of family and friends, but the majority don’t. Last Wednesday my opinion was used in a BBC article about the electronic archives (“Is the future in bits?“), I was asked for my opinion because of a blog post I had written a year earlier. Does this mean my fantasy is finally over?
Admittedly one BBC comment is not a great return on investment for 343 blog posts, although they have also linked to my blog once or twice, but if we do not take mainstream media acknowledgements as an indicator that we are making a contribution to public discussion what other indicators are there? Whilst traffic, number of links, and number of comments, could all be used, they don’t necessarily show participation in public discussion. Traffic, links, and comments can all be the result of a highly insular group which few outsiders bother with (except possibly as a curiousity).
Recognition by the mainstream media is still the best indicator that we are contributing to public discussion, but I think I will wait for a few more acknowledgements before I add the title ‘public intellectual’ to my c.v.
Sometimes it feels as though you spend your whole life online waiting to get access to the latest web site that everyone else already has access to. The site du jour, or rather the widget du jour, has been Google Friend Connect (via MediaFuturist and NevilleHobson). Finally, late this evening, I got my invite. A Google Friend Connect widget is now visible in the sidebar…albeit with just the one friend…me.
Google Friend Connect allows you to add social features to your site, from the basic ‘members gadget’(that I have added) to more interactive gadgets allowing for comments and links to be posted. Whilst sidebar-junk is a problem for most bloggers, Google Friend Connect offers a very simple entry into the world of distributed social networking; something I have been longing for before I even heard of the term. I am not a Google fan, but its weight means that such a feature can be utilised by millions of people with little more than a click.
Personally I will be interested to see who subscribes to my site (if anyone at all), and how many subscribers will be spammers.
The big question, that I have yet to hear anyone address is how Google Friend Connect will effect Orkut. Will Google Friend Connect create the opportunity for Google’s social networking site to make inroads into the US market?
I have just finished reading comScore’s “First Whitepaper Examining PC and Mobile Internet Usage in the U.K.“. Whilst most of the findings were unsurprising (i.e., mobile internet use rising fast), the top 10 domains accessed by U.K. Smartphone users reminded me of using dial-up connections many years ago: when the floppy disk arrived from your ISP and you generally kept (at least at first) whatever homepage the ISP had designated. Three of the top ten domains accessed by UK smartphone users are network providers: o2.co.uk three.co.uk vodaphone.co.uk
Are network providers really the best providers of a mobile start page? Or are users just too lazy/ignorant to change their homepage?
I have moved away from the ISP designated homepage onto the next stage of homepage evolution(last seen on the web circa 1998): your own badly designed html page of links. True to the tradition of designing your own links page, mine is in badly in need of updating.