Webometric Thoughts

December 29, 2008

Defriending/unfriending without the Guilt!

Filed under: de-friend,defriend,facebook — admin @ 1:11 pm

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.

November 15, 2008

Facebook thinks I am French!

Filed under: French,facebook — admin @ 10:24 pm

I just noticed that my Facebook blog widget is publishing in French for some reason:
Words fail me.

November 3, 2008

Facebook Overtakes the BBC in the UK!

Filed under: BBC,comScore,facebook — admin @ 2:24 pm

Looking at ComScore’s top U.K. web rankings for September 2008 there is one big story: the greatest broadcaster the world has ever known (i.e., the BBC) has been overtaken on the web in the UK by a social network site most famous for ‘the poke’ (i.e., the Facebook).

Whilst I have never been one to subscribe to the Daily Mail’s mantra that ‘the world has gone to hell in a handcart’, you can’t help but despair on days like this. The future’s bleak, the future is filled with flying sheep and zombie bites. It will be interesting to see how the Mail deal with the story. Do they spin it as the “BBC letting things slip” or “Armageddon due as world’s youth communicate”? So much fear and hatred and only one small paper.

The BBC has a massive site with loads of great stuff, but unfortunately most people just go to the same few small areas. Everyone should go to the BBC this minute and surf an area they haven’t been to before!

April 18, 2008

Facebook Lexicon v. Google Trends

Filed under: facebook,lexicon — admin @ 12:44 pm

One of the most interesting stories of the last week has been Facebook’s introduction of their lexicon tool, “a tool to follow language trends across Facebook” (via All Facebook). Whilst the information provided is very simplistic, merely showing the rising and fall of the terms’ popularity rather than specific numbers, it will be interesting to see how the popularity of terms equates to those that are searched for in Google (available via Google Trends). Are those terms that appear in wall posts the same as those that appear in Facebook wall posts? And do they follow the same trends?

For a quick comparison I took data from the two services for the term Christmas, a popular term that could be expected to vary over the year:
Google Trends

Facebook Lexicon

Unsurprisingly they both peak around the Christmas period, although the peak is much more pronouced on Facebook…all those Merry Christmas posts. To a certain extent the differences in these graphs is to be expected, but I’m sure that there will be a host of far more interesting comparisons in the months ahead.

March 6, 2008

Facebook Harassment: When is a poke one too many?

Filed under: facebook — admin @ 12:09 pm

As I sat in my dentist’s waiting room yesterday (no work necessary, thanks for asking), I read a report in the Daily Telegraph about the first man who has been taken to court in the UK for allegedly harassing his ex-girlfriend via Facebook.

Whilst all new communication technologies seem to eventually make it to court for allegedly involving harassment, surely after the first unwanted sheep or two had been thrown in the ex-girlfriend’s direction, or he had poked her once too often, she would have simply de-friended him. As the trial is only up the road I am almost tempted to go along later in the month and find out exactly the role Facebook took, surely it was a minor part that the media have decided to focus on.

UPDATE: The defendent has been cleared according to the Register 27/03/08

February 12, 2008

De-friending on Facebook

Filed under: de-friend,defriend,facebook — admin @ 3:57 pm

One of the Facebook issues that is often discussed is the juggling of friends from different spheres. Would you want professional colleagues seeing what you had been up to on a drunken night out? The vicar to see your debauched holiday snaps?

An issue that is often overlooked is whether you really want to know the continuous goings-on of certain people’s lives. Today I finally gave up and de-friended my brother:

Whilst his status could not be seen by any of my friends, and he never felt the need to write inappropriate comments on my wall, a person’s status can slowly drive you mad.

Unfortunately de-friending on Facebook is a rather un-momentous affair. Merely being asked if you are sure you want to go ahead, told you won’t be able to undo it, and told that the person will not be informed. Facebook should allow you to inform the person and provide the reason if you wish. As it was I had to resort to the traditional email to explain my actions. Maybe I should have looked for a de-friending application that offered to send some sort of animated e-card.

January 28, 2008

Facebookers Back Barack

Filed under: Clinton,Obama,blogging,facebook,social web — admin @ 2:39 pm

After spending the morning reading a few articles about blogging in the 2004 US election (does life get any more interesting??) I decided to have a look how Facebook reflected the race for the Democrat presidential nomination.

Basically, if democracy reflected the votes of the idealistic youth, rather than the self-interested cynical old conservatives, then Obama would be walking into the Whitehouse (no-one idealistic votes Republican). A comparison of Obama and Clinton’s top groups can’t help but make anyone who dislikes Hilary smile:
Obama
1. Barack Obama for President in 2008
2. Students for Barack Obama
3. America for Barack Obama
4. Barack Obama for President
5. 1 Million strong, against Hilary and Obama
(nb. maybe it is the annoyingly superfluous comma that is currently restricting the 1 million strong to 5,493).

Clinton
1. Anti Hilary Clinton 2008
2. ABC= Anyone But Clinton
3. as much as i love the U.S…i’m gone if Hilary Clinton becomes president
4. I’d vote for a trained chimpanzee before Hilary Clinton
5. Hilary Clinton Shouldn’t Run For President She Should Run The Dishes

I’m sure that analysis of the comments in the groups would be even more of an eye-opener…although many of the comments about Clinton are probably not suitable for repeating in a polite blog.

In 2004 blogging was the also ran of the presidential campaign. Yes, it was an important element, but not quite the deciding factor that was hoped for. The question is whether social network sites will be the also ran, or the decisive mover. If Hilary enters the Whitehouse, it is definately an also ran.

January 16, 2008

Is content king of social networks?

Filed under: Hitwise,content,facebook,imeem,social web — admin @ 6:33 pm

I have just finished Hitwise’s “The Impact of Social Networking in the UK“, and as I thought it is well worth a read (although it didn’t actually appear in my inbox until lunchtime today).

Whilst I would agree with most of the report’s predictions for 2008, especially the growth in the role of social networks for marketing and the increase in specialist social networks, the report didn’t particularly address the issue of content. By which I mean the quality content of the music, film and television studios, rather than the strange things that pass for humour amongst the user-generating masses. The general social network that successfully ties up the rights for their users to share music and video seems likely to take the spoils, and a successful new entrant could quickly usurp the market leaders.

The music rights secured by Imeem are likely to have been a major contributory factor in the social network’s massive growth over the last year, and that these rights are only for the US helps explains the network’s missing from the top 25 UK social networks. Whilst the growth seems to have slowed of late (at least according to alexa and google trends), music rights are not likely to be as enticing as video rights. People want to listen to music on numerous different platforms, whereas television programmes are usually only watched the once.

Whilst I have tired of Facebook, I could be persuaded to return on a more regular basis if I got to do the social stuff whilst watching quality TV programmes.

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

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.

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