Webometric Thoughts

January 8, 2009

Netbooks: The next big thing?

Filed under: Eee PC,Elonex,T91 — admin @ 10:57 am

Over the last few days there have been many stories in the newspapers about how netbooks are the next big thing (e.g., The Times, The Daily Telegraph). It’s a bit of a bizarre story as netbooks have been a big thing for over a year! The reason they have been gaining increased interest is that M&S and Next (primarily clothing stores) are going to be carrying an Elonex netbook from next month, and the need to diversify and the shrinking of laptops reflects the recession stories they like to peddle. I’m not sure which Elonex model is going on sale for £99, but a £99 model is by no means a recent offering, even if the outlets are.

On a personal note, netbooks are on the up in my house today. After over a month without my Eee PC, due to problems with the plug, my new plug arrived. Admittedly as it is a black plug for a white Eee PC it risks being mocked by the other laptops, but I couldn’t care less. I didn’t realise how much the netbook had become part of my life until I could no longer access it.

If you haven’t bought a netbook yet, you really should. Whilst the Elonex may not be the best choice for you, there are numerous different sizes and specs now available depending on your budget.

[Update 9.30pm]
Well it was charging, but it has since stopped charging again; it seems as though I will have to go to the screw-drivers. Whilst I was feeling disheartened, I have cheered up since having a look at the Eee PC’s T91. Asus keep rolling out kit I want (see also Asus’ Eee Keyboard).

January 6, 2009

[Dial2Do]: This is just a…

Filed under: Dial2Do — admin @ 8:14 pm

This is just a post to show the potential of the dial2do program.

Powered by Dial2Do

. Mp3


Above is an automatic post created through the free (it currently just costs the price of a telephone call) Dial2Do telephone service, through which you can send texts, listen to and send emails, record notes for yourself, even update your blog. I just came across the site today on Web 2.0 Guru’s site, and it is the first such service I have come across that was free…and hence the first one I have tried.

Whilst above is my first blog post using Dial2Do (which I hadn’t thought through before hand), I have also used the service for sending email and texts. The email got through my university’s spam system without any problems (a small miracle), and the texts were delivered fairly promptly.

In an effort to test the speed of sending a text via Dial2Do I timed how long it would take to send a typical text to my girlfriend (in this case “Can you please do the washing up”) first via Dial2Do, then via the more traditional SMS. For such a short message it took me the same length of time to send the message, approximately 35 seconds. However, whilst I sent the traditional SMS second, it actually arrived 2 minutes before the Dial2Do message. Such a delay may be considered neglible, and would soon disappear if you were sending either longer messages or one message after another.

If you want to know more about the sort of stuff you can do with Dial2Do, it is summarised quite neatly in a picture on the Dial2Do blog. It seems as though I have finally found a service to use up all the call time I get on my phone package!

Gaza 2.0: If 100,000 people join I will rename all disputed territories Spiderman

Filed under: war 2.0,web 2.0 — admin @ 9:24 am

As the war in Gaza continues there is a lot of comment in the blogosphere about how the different sides are fighting to get support for their opinions on the web, the so-called war 2.0. Twitterings are flying, pictures are being uploaded to Flickr, videos are uploaded to YouTube, and of course Facebook has the necessary groups of support for both sides:

Whilst on the one hand these new technologies give a voice to views and opinions that may not otherwise be heard (supposedly a good thing…although not always), in many ways it can turn a very bloody event into a spectator sport: you get to wear the colours of your ‘team’, shout abuse at opposing fans, even use your support as a means for self-promotion (e.g., ‘love your group about lots of people dying…come and join my group about lots of people dying’), and finally judge your position on the league table of Facebook group numbers. All from the comfort of your own home.

January 4, 2009

Feedjit: Watching your visitors in real time

Filed under: Feedjit — admin @ 6:33 pm

If you ever scroll all the way down to the bottom of my blog’s over-cluttered side bar you will see a new widget from today: Feedjit. Whilst I have long been addicted to my Google Analytics it has always annoyed me that I can’t see the visitors in real time. As such I decided to give Feedjit a try after seeing it on Goodbye Wren’s post about a 150% baby.

Now I can just set my Feedjit page as my homepage, sit back, and watch no one turn up with far less effort. In fact the whole world can watch no one turn up on my blog.

Identity 2.0 …and how I found it

Filed under: Identity 2.0 — admin @ 11:13 am

Whilst I spend more time on the web than the average UK housewife, I spend the vast majority of my time looking at the same sites again and again. In an effort to cast my net a little wider, yesterday I started typing ‘web 2.0′ into Google Blog Search, sorting the results by date, and reading the most recent postings on the subject. What’s great about the term ‘web 2.0′ is that it is popular enough to produce regular results from numerous different fields, but specific enough to be interesting; the term ‘webometrics’ makes for a very quiet evening in in comparison.

Anyway, on my ‘web 2.0′ travels this morning I came across a quite interesting video on the topic of Identity 2.0, an interesting subject that I must admit to not giving enough thought to. It’s only 15 minutes long, and well presented, so you really have no excuses for not watching it.

January 3, 2009

Webometric Word Clouds: an unscientific comparison

Filed under: Wordle,webometrics,word clouds — admin @ 5:14 pm

Whilst contemplating creating word clouds from search engine results(what else do people think about on a Saturday afternoons?) I started to wonder what my thesis would look like as a word cloud. More specifically, would it end up looking like the autobiography for Mike Thelwall? A quick copy and paste of 163 pages of text into Wordle later:

Maybe articles and theses should have a word cloud before the abstract to help users decide at a glance whether it is even worth reading the abstract.

How does my word cloud compare with other recent webometric theses?

How to become a top tech blogger (in the UK)

Filed under: blogging,blogosphere — admin @ 12:47 pm

Each month Wikio publishes a list of the most influential technology blogs in the UK blogosphere. As my own blog is likely to be a contender for the least influential tech blog in the UK I decided to take time to visit each of the top 30 most influential technology blogs in the UK and draw together a few rules for becoming a top tech blogger.

What should you call your blog?
Anything you like. Whilst there are obvious benefits from the “it does exactly what it says on the tin” approach to blog naming (e.g., Phones Review), qwghlm.co.uk’s success clearly shows that your blog name doesn’t even need to be pronounceable to be popular. If you can’t think of anything, don’t want to pigeon-hole your blog in the longterm, or just want to see your name up in lights, you can always join the 17% of the top 30 who have chosen to name their blogs after themselves.

What makes a good blog post?
Anything goes, from long wordy pieces (e.g., qwghlm.co.uk) to shorter bite-sized pieces (e.g., Gadgettastic). With billions of internet users out there, there will be millions who prefer each of the different styles, so feel free to blog in the format most appropriate to you.

Should a blog stay on topic?
It makes no difference. Whilst I often worry that my own eclectic mix of blog posts will put people off subscribing to my blog, it seems as though my lack of subscribers is more to do with the quality of the posts than what I am posting about. The most influential technology bloggers have few qualms about posting about anything that crosses their minds: football, politics, music (or is that music as an excuse to post about scantily dressed women?). Unsurprisingly collaborative bloggers are more likely to stay on topic than personal blogs.

How regularly should you blog?
Several times a day, extremely rarely, or somewhere in-between. At one end of the scale you have the collaborative blogs which are more akin to traditional media with numerous writers publishing many stories each day (e.g., TechCrunch UK), whilst other blogs average only one or two posts a month (e.g., Simon Willson). Xlab shows that you can even stop blogging and continue to be listed as one of the top UK bloggers.

Can you make it on your own?
The spirit of the blog as an alternative to big media is alive and well with many of the wikio’s most influential bloggers being individuals, however there is no harm in being part of the traditional media scene: dot.life (The BBC’s technology blog); The Red Ferret Journal (columnist and feature writer for the Sunday Times); The Guardian Technology Blog (surely no explanation required).

So, in summary:
1. Call your blog something.
2. Post in some format.
3. …at some point.
4. …about something.
5. Buddying-up with a national media organisation won’t do you any harm.

Some would say that an examination of the most influential tech blogs shows that there is no hard and fast rules for becoming a top tech blogger, just write about what you want in your own style, and if people visit they visit. However, I think by following my consise summary readers will have no excuses for not becoming one of the most influential tech bloggers by this time next year…all I need to do is buddy-up with a national media organisation for the complete set.

January 2, 2009

Why don’t lottery tickets have QR Codes?

Filed under: QR codes,national lottery — admin @ 9:15 pm

Whilst contemplating the current lack of a mass appeal QR code application in my previous post, it occurred to me that they would be brilliant on lottery tickets. It would be extremely simple for a QR code to be generated for each ticket which includes a hyperlink to a dynamically generated web page saying whether or not it is a winning ticket:

Not only would this be much faster for the players than checking half a dozen lucky dips manually, but it would also drive tens of thousands of customers to the national lottery web site; where players could then be enticed to play other national lottery mobile games!

I’m not sure how extra revenue such a scheme would make for national lottery good causes, but I think I could at least expect a gallery in the British Museum named after me :-)

nb. The idea has already generated an extra £2 as I went out and bought the above ticket specifically for this blog post.

Blog on 2009

The choice of January 1st as New Year’s day always annoys me, but as virtually no one else in the Western World questions the choice I reluctantly go along with the general concensus (albeit in the most miserable manner possible). It is, therefore, an appropriate time to think about the year ahead and like so many other bloggers make a few predictions/uneducated-guesses/pointless-meanderings about the world of technology. [Basically a long rambling random selection of my current thoughts on technology summed up in a simple list].

The Good News
1. The N97 takes Nokia back to the top of the pile
At the end of this month my N95 contract will finally be over. The problem I have is that there isn’t really a better phone on the market:
- The improvements on the N96 are negligible, and are not worth another 12/18-month contract.
- The G1 is missing a decent camera, GPS, and most importantly a large enough user base to create all those extra applications I want.
- The iPhone…well I just don’t understand why anyone would get such an over-hyped, locked-down, touchscreen-only phone.
Whilst the N97 is likely to be the best smartphone on the market in 2009 (whenever it emerges) that is no guarantee of success, but hopefully a move to more austere times in 2009 will be a set-back to Apple, the epitome of style over substance.

2. Distributed social networks will shrink Facebook traffic
I am hoping for a distributed future for social networks; one where I am in control of my account, my data, my applications. Be it a desire for photos of breastfeeding mothers, playing games that infringe intellectual copyright, or pretending to be the president of Guyana. Whilst I don’t disagree with any of the decisions Facebook has made on these particular issues, there may on occasion be times that I do disagree with Facebook. If you are on Facebook you have to abide by Facebook’s arbitrary rules and the rules of your own country; if you are on a distributed social network you only have to abide by the rules of your own country.

3. Project Kangaroo will hit UK desktops
It was back in 2007 that I first heard about the proposed single on-demand player for BBC, ITV, and Channel 4, and whilst it all seems to have been bad news in 2008 with the Competition Commission complaining about a lack of rivalry, I think 2009 will be the year it moves/jumps forwards. The idea that a rivalry between the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4, is driving innovation in video-on-demand in the UK is best described as ‘bollocks’. Obviously the organisations will make comparisons with one another, but they are equally concerned about comparing themselves with international competitors (e.g., YouTube). 2009 will either be the year that the Competition Commission realises this, the Competition Commission fails to realise but bows to public demand for a single player, or the BBC freely share the technology in such a way as to circumvent the Competition Commission’s ruling.

The Bad News
4. The general public continue to ignore QR codes
It was also back in 2007 that I first discovered QR codes, and the Sun told the masses all about them. During 2008 the masses have continued to ignore them, and I think 2009 will be much the same. Whilst the Pepsi Max campaign will, no-doubt, increase QR code awareness amongst certain sections of the population, there is not yet a killer application for the mass of the population. The question is whether QR codes will be able to carve out a niche before RFID tags become more widespread, if not it may be a technology that just passes the UK by; the moment of truth probably won’t come until 2010.

5. No Google alternative will emerge
I have been disliking Google for many years now, and I don’t expect 2009 to see a change in my attitude: no single company should have so much control on what people see on the internet. Yahoo will continue to shrink, Live will slow their loss of market share by throwing money at it, but eventually Google will know everything and control everything you know. Alongside this pessimistic view, it is worth noting that if a markedly better search engine does emerge, and spreads virally as an embedded application in a social networking site (the only way to compete against the Google-do-all-portal), then the Google fortunes could fall over night.

nb. I do realise that January 1st would have been a more appropriate day for such meanderings, but yesterday was spent lounging around watching ‘family’ movies….why I never went to the cinema to watch “The Shaggy Dog” will forever remain a mystery.

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