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Links for July 25th through July 30th:
- Apple, Microsoft refuse to appear before IT pricing inquiry [The Age] – “A[n Australian] parliamentary committee wants to force computer giant Apple to appear before it after members became frustrated with the company’s refusal to co-operate. Hearings into the pricing of software and other IT-related material such as games and music downloads will begin in Sydney tomorrow but neither Apple nor Microsoft will appear. ”Some of the big names in IT have taken local consumers for a ride for years but when legitimate questions are asked about their pricing, they disappear in a flash,” Labor MP and committee member Ed Husic told Fairfax Media. ”Within our growing digital economy, there are reasonable questions to be answered by major IT companies on their Australian pricing. These companies would never treat US consumers in this way.” Both Microsoft and Adobe provided submissions to the inquiry.”
- Don’t tweet if you want TV, London fans told [The Age] – “Sports fans attending the London Olympics were told on Sunday to avoid non-urgent text messages and tweets during events because overloading of data networks was affecting television coverage. Commentators on Saturday’s men’s cycling road race were unable to tell viewers how far the leaders were ahead of the chasing pack because data could not get through from the GPS satellite navigation system travelling with the cyclists. It was particularly annoying for British viewers, who had tuned in hoping to see a medal for sprint king Mark Cavendish. Many inadvertently made matters worse by venting their anger on Twitter at the lack of information. An International Olympic Committee spokesman said the network problem had been caused by the messages sent by the hundreds of thousands of fans who lined the streets to cheer on the British team. “Of course, if you want to send something, we are not going to say ‘Don’t, you can’t do it’,… “
- Olympics 2012, Sir Tim Berners Lee and Open Internet [Cerebrux] – Great to see the 2012 London Olympics celebrating World Wide Web inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. “Flash forward to last night, he was honored as the ‘Inventor of the World Wide Web’ at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Berners-Lee is revealed in front of a computer keyboard into which he types a message, which is then rendered in lights in the stands of Olympic Stadium: “This is for everyone.” and a message simultaneously appeared on his Twitter account: Tim Berners-Lee@timberners_lee This is for everyone #london2012 #oneweb #openingceremony @webfoundation @w3c
28 Jul 12. A great quote that resembles the openness and the fact that some things should belong to humanity.”
- The Rise of the “Connected Viewer” [Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project] – “Half of all adult cell phone owners now incorporate their mobile devices into their television watching experiences. These “connected viewers” used their cell phones for a wide range of activities during the 30 days preceding our April 2012 survey:
- 38% of cell owners used their phone to keep themselves occupied during commercials or breaks in something they were watching
- 23% used their phone to exchange text messages with someone else who was watching the same program in a different location
- 22% used their phone to check whether something they heard on television was true
- 20% used their phone to visit a website that was mentioned on television
- 11% used their phone to see what other people were saying online about a program they were watching, and 11% posted their own comments online about a program they were watching using their mobile phone
- Taken together, 52% of all cell owners are “connected viewers”—meaning they use their phones while watching television …”
- RIAA: Online Music Piracy Pales In Comparison to Offline Swapping [TorrentFreak] – “A leaked presentation from the RIAA shows that online file-sharing isn’t the biggest source of illegal music acquisition in the U.S. The confidential data reveals that 65% of all music files are “unpaid” but the vast majority of these are obtained through offline swapping. […] In total, 15 percent of all acquired music (paid + unpaid) comes from P2P file-sharing and just 4 percent from cyberlockers. Offline swapping in the form of hard drive trading and burning/ripping from others is much more prevalent with 19 and 27 percent respectively. This leads to the, for us, surprising conclusion that more than 70% of all unpaid music comes from offline swapping. The chart is marked “confidential” which suggests that the RIAA doesn’t want this data to be out in the open. This is perhaps understandable since the figures don’t really help their crusade against online piracy.”
- Robin Hood Airport tweet bomb joke man wins case [BBC News] – Finally: “A man found guilty of sending a menacing tweet threatening to blow up an airport has won a challenge against his conviction. Paul Chambers, 28, of Northern Ireland, was found guilty in May 2010 of sending a “menacing electronic communication”. He was living in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, when he tweeted that he would blow up nearby Robin Hood Airport when it closed after heavy snow.
After a hearing at the High Court in London his conviction was quashed.”
- The Instagram Community Hits 80 Million Users [Instagram Blog] – As of July 2012, after finally launching an Android app, and being purchased by Facebook, Instagram has 80 million registered users, who’ve posted cumulatively more than 4 billion photos.
- Music stars accuse Google of helping pirates rip off material [WA Today] – “LONDON: Roger Daltry of the Who and Brian May of Queen are among rock and pop stars who publicly attacked search engines such as Google for helping users get access to pirated copies of their music. Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin have also signed a letter to The Daily Telegraph in London calling for more action to tackle the illegal copying and distribution of music. Other signatories include the producer and creator of The X Factor, Simon Cowell. The letter, which will also be sent to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, this week, highlighted the role that search engines can play in giving people access to illegal copies. Search engines must ”play their part in protecting consumers and creators from illegal sites”, the signatories said, adding that broadband companies and online advertisers must also do more to prevent piracy.”
Links for June 30th 2011 through July 4th 2011:
- Google Chrome hits 20% global share as Microsoft continues browser slide [Network World] – “Google Chrome’s rise in popularity has been remarkably fast and it’s just hit a new milestone: more than 20% of all browser usage, according to StatCounter. Chrome rose from only 2.8% in June 2009 to 20.7% worldwide in June 2011, while Microsoft’s Internet Explorer fell from 59% to 44% in the same time frame. Firefox dropped only slightly in the past two years, from 30% to 28%.”
- Angry Birds film takes off [guardian.co.uk] – “An Angry Birds movie is slingshotting its way into development with the announcement that former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel has been recruited as a special adviser by Rovio – the mobile game company that developed the popular pig-popping franchise. “There has been so much chatter about an Angry Birds movie, but it’s now real,” Maisel told Variety. “The process is starting now.” Maisel, who was responsible for shepherding mega-hits such as Iron Man to the big screen while at Marvel, said he was interested in the “emotional connection” that players have with the Angry Birds characters.”
- Australian Social Trends, Jun 2011 – Summary data released in the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2011 about social and cultural trends in Australia (as measured by a variety of stats). Useful for lectures.
- Exclusive: Myspace to Be Sold to Specific Media for $35 Million [AllThingsD] – MySpace purchase price in 2005: $580 million.
MySpace sale price in 2011: $35 million.
NewsCorp: not winning.
- Chinese faked photograph leaves officials on street of shame [The Guardian] – “For government officials in Huili, a distinctly modest county in a rural corner of south-west China, attracting national media coverage would normally seem a dream come true. Unfortunately, their moment in the spotlight was not so welcome: mass ridicule over what may well be one of the worst-doctored photographs in internet history. The saga began on Monday when Huili’s website published a picture showing, according to the accompanying story, three local officials inspecting a newly completed road construction project this month. The picture certainly portrayed the men, and the road, but the officials appeared to be levitating several inches above the tarmac. As photographic fakery goes it was astonishingly clumsy.” [Gallery of photoshop ‘responses.]
- Credit Is Due (The Attribution Song) [YouTube] – Nina Paley’s excellent short video explaining why copying WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION is plagiarism. (And why that’s wrong.) Surely this clip will find its way into first-year university lectures everywhere!
- Bitcoins [Rocketboom] – Molly on Rocketboom makes a valiant, if slightly confused, effort to explain Bitcoins.
Today Apple made some big announcements about their desktop operating system OS X Lion and their mobile iOS 5, and most importantly the service which will more intimately bind these two: iCloud. Globally, news services will continue their iFetish and splash reports everywhere, so I’ll leave you to catch the full details elsewhere. However, the iCloud is interesting for all sorts of reasons, not least of all because Apple, Google and Amazon are all dancing around the same territory, so I thought I’d take a minute and consider who (apart from Apple, of course) are the obvious winners and losers in the wake of the iCloud announcements.
The Big Winners:
- The Big Music Companies. Here’s Apple’s description of iMatch service, part of the iCloud:
iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to your iCloud library for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, most of your music is probably already in iCloud. All you have to upload is what iTunes can’t match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. And all the music iTunes matches plays back at 256-Kbps iTunes Plus quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.
Those songs that iTunes can’t match may very well be unauthorised downloads, but once you’ve paid $25 to use iTunes in the cloud, you’ve got access to it on any Apple device. And where is that money going? Estimates suggest the bulk is going to the music labels, with Apple keeping their customary 30% (which might just pay for the service, but this item by itself is probably going to be making a loss, especially for people who have huge music libraries). As Mashable note, Apple Has Just Monetized Pirated Content. The music labels are once again getting paid for ‘pirated’ music – a big win for them!
- Twitter: iOS 5 integrates Twitter into almost everything, making Apple the Twitter OS of choice (and implicitly waving goodbye to Apple’s failed music social network, Ping). As the official Twitter blog celebrates: “Building Twitter into iOS 5 truly creates the easiest way to share everything that’s happening in your world. Take a picture, tap “Tweet”. Tweeting has never been simpler.”
- And, of course, “The Cloud”: while the cloud and cloud computing are nebulous terms, Sony’s recent PlayStation Network hacks have really dampened the reputation of web-based storage and services, especially in terms of security. Now that Apple have stuck and ‘i’ in front of the cloud, Steve Jobs’ “it just works” magic will no doubt ensure the cloud stays cool and secure (even their brushed metal iCloud logo emphasises strength and security).
The Big Losers:
- PC manufacturers and Microsoft: iOS 5, and the cloud-based services, will all be available on Apple devices (iPhones, iPads ,touchscreen iPods) without needing to connect to a PC. These devices can now be activated on their own terms, working using cloud services, and for many people may do away with the need for a PC altogether. A big plus for Apple hardware sales, but a really clear slap in the face to standard PC manufacturers. I wonder, though, if this will force PC makers to form more robust alliances with Google (or maybe Amazon) to keep a competitive edge? Perhaps PC manufacturers will suddenly be falling over themselves to create Chromebooks. None of this will help Microsoft, because these conversations don’t involve anyone needing to run Windows anymore!
- Amazon/Google: Apple is almost certainly running iMatch and the iTunes in the cloud services as a loss-leader (ie making little or no profit), using these services to drive hardware sales. Google and Amazon have both been trying to carve out the same cloud-based music sharing (and other services) but don’t have the core hardware sales business to offset the cost of keeping the music labels on side. It’s hard to see how they’ll compete without having to at least match Apple’s costs and security imperatives.
- Point’n’click camera manufacturers: a smaller change in iOS 5, but a big one of you rely on your iPhone for photography, is that you can go straight to the iPhone camera from the locked phone in one click. This makes photography a lot easier, and avoids the clicks through the navigation screens. This does seems a small change, but for many folks the only reason to carry a point’n’click camera and an iPhone was that the camera could get to the point of actually taking a shot faster – it really doesn’t look like that’ll be the case soon.
One to watch: I’m really curious how Apple’s End User License Agreements will shape the iCloud. If users are really going to rely on Apple to make mp3s available via the cloud, regardless of whether there is any evidence of a legal purchase or otherwise, Apple will own an vast and important database of what people actually possess. While the big music labels are implicitly supporting the iCloud and iMatch service for now, what happens if the relationship sours? How will Apple react to lawsuits demanding individually identifiable information, especially, say, for music which is leaked or not legally available in one country or another? Even the date of access would be enough to show unauthorized file-sharing in action and do we really trust Apple to be a custodian of that information? (For those interested in this issue, you should really read Jonathan Zittrain’s The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It.)
Links for October 25th 2010 through November 1st 2010:
- WikiLeaks on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan [The New Yorker] – “Whether WikiLeaks will prove over time to be a credible publisher of such truths is another question. Assange disclosed the names of informants in some of the war reports, even though doing so might endanger them and possibly cause their death. […] If the organization continues to attract sources and vast caches of unfiltered secret documents, it will have to steer through the foggy borderlands between dissent and vandalism, and it will have to defend its investigative journalism against those who perceive it as a crime. Assange is animated by the idea of radical transparency, but WikiLeaks as yet lacks a fixed address. Nor does it offer its audiences any mechanism for its own accountability. […] if WikiLeaks cannot learn to think efficiently about its publishing choices, it will risk failure, not only because of the governmental opponents it has induced but also because so far it lacks an ethical culture that is consonant with the ideals of free media.”
- MI6 chief red over daughter’s Facebook shot [The Age] – This seems a ridiculous media beat-up to me: “British spy chief John Sawers is facing public embarrassment after his daughter posted a photo of herself posing with a gold Kalashnikov rifle on Facebook. Oxford graduate Corinne Sawers, 23, is seen standing in front of a family Christmas tree holding the gold-plated weapon – similar to those found among Saddam Hussein’s treasures after the 2003 Iraq invasion – in her profile pictures, The Sunday Mirror reports. The gun is a decommissioned Kalashnikov and is believed to have been a gift to Corinne’s father, MI6 boss Sir John, as a memento of his time in Iraq. All of Corinne’s 873 Facebook friends, and tens of thousands of their friends globally, can see her gun-toting picture on the networking site.”
- New Zealand is still Middle-earth: A summary of the Hobbit crisis [Observations on film art] – An outstanding summary by Kristin Thompson of the issues surrounding the ill-advised actors’ boycott of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, the subsequent debates, deliberations and the eventual change in New Zealand’s laws to accommodate the production and any other films with budgets of $NZ150 million (James Cameron is supposedly looking at shooting Avatar 2 and 3 there). If nothing else, the whole debate shows just how deeply tied New Zealand is not with Middle Earth, both metaphorically and emotionally.
- LimeWire file-sharing site shut down in US [BBC News] – “An injunction issued by the US district court in New York has effectively shut down LimeWire, one of the internet’s biggest file-sharing sites. It ends four years of wrangling between the privately-owned Lime Group and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The injunction compels Lime Group to disable its searching, downloading, uploading and file trading features. The firm plans to launch new services that adhere to copyright laws soon. Visitors to the LimeWire website are confronted with a legal notice that reads: “This is an offical notice that LimeWire is under a court ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software.””
- Tweeting celebrities in dash for cash [SMH] – “Australian celebrities are being offered as much as $10,000 for a single tweet endorsing products to their thousands of Twitter followers, say sponsorship experts. But while the US celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan and Snoop Dogg are reportedly already enjoying large one-off payments to promote brands and products on Twitter, the dash for cash is yet to take hold here. The celebrities need only post a one-line product endorsement in exchange for the fee, and according to Britain’s Marketing Week, Range Rover approached 40 British celebrities this week to tweet in a similar way about the recently unveiled Evoque 4×4 in the UK. Bruce Kaider, president of Sponsorship Australasia and founder of a sports management company, confirmed that high profile Australian sportspeople were already being approached to endorse products on Twitter for fees of anything between $500 to $10,000 per tweet.”
- Facebook and Farmville dominate 3’s mobile broadband data [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Zynga and Farmville second only to Facebook in UK mobile network traffic: “The mobile network 3 has released the first in a series of research papers describing traffic use and behaviour among its mobile broadband customers, published here first by the Guardian. Of the 2,500 terabytes of data used across the network in July, it’s no surprise that Facebook (by several metrics now the most popular website in the world) came out top, accounting for 7.023 terabytes of data use across the network. 3 says the data, from more than 1 million customers, is specifically from mobile broadband or dongles, which evidently have moved far beyond primarily business use; 3 claims its users account for 40% of the dongle market. […] The surprise is that casual gaming company Zynga is second only to Facebook in volume of data used at 3.584 terabytes, while Zynga’s own flagship game, Farmville, is listed fifth with 1.68 terabytes for the month.”
- Go beyond the PC, Microsoft urged [BBC News] – “Microsoft must think beyond the PC if it is to weather the changes due to hit in the next five years. The warning was given by Microsoft’s chief software architect Ray Ozzie in a memo penned soon after he announced he was leaving the company. […] he said, the strengths that had helped Microsoft grow in the past now risked holding it back. The memo, called “Dawn of a New Day” mirrors one Mr Ozzie wrote soon after taking over from Bill Gates as the man in charge of charting the development direction of Microsoft’s portfolio of programs. That first memo imagined a world of seamless computing and kicked off Microsoft’s attempts to get its many different programs working together across lots of different devices. In Dawn of a New Day, Mr Ozzie praised the work Microsoft had done towards that end, but said rivals had done even better.”
- A Labor Issue Entangles ‘The Hobbit’ [NYTimes.com] – The real battle for Middle Earth: “Is Wellywood burning? New Zealand’s feisty film workers have taken to the streets this week to try to keep Peter Jackson’s production of “The Hobbit” in their country, nudging the prime minister, John Key, toward a Tuesday summit meeting with a visiting contingent of Warner Brothers executives. Filming had been threatened by a dispute over whether a New Zealand branch of an Australian union could engage in collective bargaining on the Hollywood films, which they have not been able to do in the past. As of Tuesday afternoon in Wellington — the New Zealand capital and the center of a growing movie industry sometimes called Wellywood — the matter was unsettled. But it was clear that Mr. Jackson’s furry little film creatures were not going anywhere without a fight.”
- Sony Kills The Cassette Walkman On The iPod’s Birthday [Gizmodo Australia] – Steve Jobs killed the cassette playing star? “After 30 years, Sony has announced that they will stop manufacturing and selling the venerable cassette Walkman. In a poetic twist, the official death of the Walkman also lands on the iPod’s 9th anniversary. The Sony Walkman was introduced on July 1, 1979 in Japan and it was a major breakthrough in delivering a low-cost portable stereo. […] Over its 30 year history of the Cassette Walkman, Sony sold 200 million units. A portable music player became a part of our lives, largely in part of the Walkman.”
Links for October 13th 2010 through October 18th 2010:
- Facebook in Online Privacy Breach; Applications Transmitting Identifying Information [WSJ.com] – *sigh* “Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found. The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure. […] The Journal found that all of the 10 most popular apps on Facebook were transmitting users’ IDs to outside companies. […] include Zynga Game Network Inc.’s FarmVille, with 59 million users, and Texas HoldEm Poker and FrontierVille. Three of the top 10 apps, including FarmVille, also have been transmitting personal information about a user’s friends to outside companies”
- Apple stores teeming with germs [WA Today] – Finally, viruses come to Apple! 😛 “A leading Australian expert in infectious diseases says people who use display iPads and iPhones at Apple stores are risking serious infections and the company should do more to maintain hygiene. The call by Professor Peter Collignon, the director of infectious diseases and microbiology at the Australian National University, follows research that found a higher risk of transmitting pathogens from glass surfaces like iPads to human skin. “You wouldn’t have hundreds of people using the same glass or cup, but theoretically if hundreds of people share the same keyboard or touch pad, then effectively that’s what you’re doing,” Collignon said in a phone interview.”
- Facebook and Microsoft Team Up on Social Search [NYTimes.com] – Searching your social graph? “Bing just got a little more help from its friend, Facebook. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that Facebook users would be able to see recommendations and relevant links from their friends in search results on Bing. “It isn’t just about the common connections between data and the offline world, it’s about the connections between people,” said Yusuf Mehdi, a senior vice president of online business at Microsoft, during an event held at Microsoft’s campus in Mountain View, Calif. Mr. Mehdi gave the example of a Bing user trying to decide whether or not to see the science fiction film “Inception.” When a user searches for the film on Bing, information about how many of their friends “liked” the movie on Facebook and relevant links they have shared will appear alongside reviews, ticketing information and movie show times, he said. […] Facebook and Microsoft are increasingly deepening ties, perhaps in an effort to better fend off a common adversary, Google”
- Unlogo – Nifty! “Unlogo is a web service that eliminates logos and other corporate signage from videos. On a practical level, it takes back your personal media from the corporations and advertisers. On a technical level, it is a really cool combination of some brand new OpenCV and FFMPEG functionality. On a poetic level, it is a tool for focusing on what is important in the record of your life rather than the ubiquitous messages that advertisers want you to focus on. In short, Unlogo gives people the opportunity to opt out of having corporate messages permanently imprinted into the photographic record of their lives.” [Video: http://vimeo.com/14566198]
- Facebook keeps ‘deleted’ user photos for years [WA Today] – “Even if you delete incriminating photos on your Facebook profile, the company is keeping them accessible to anyone online for up to 30 months. The social networking site admitted it had been keeping deleted photos for a “limited” amount of time. But users who have kept the direct link to photos that were originally uploaded to the social networking site have been able to still gain access to them months, even years after deletion. In one report, a Facebook user said they had deleted an image from the site 2.5 years ago (30 months), and that it was still available to see on the site. Another said a photo from April 2009 was still accessible after it was deleted.”
- Baby Born From 20-Year-Old Frozen Embryo [io9] – “Cryopreservation was once the domain of sci-fi novels and B-rate movies. (Think Encino Man.) But it’s increasingly real, as the recent birth of a healthy boy from a frozen embryo created 20 years earlier shows. The birth, which is reported in a study in the online edition of the journal Fertility and Sterility, sets a record. Until now, no embryo frozen for this long has resulted in a live birth. The 42-year-old mother of the boy, who is not named in the study, began trying to get pregnant using IVF ten years ago. At the time, she and her husband received embryos from a heterosexual couple who had themselves undergone IVF. That couple had anonymously donated their leftover embryos after the woman successfully gave birth. Thing was, they did so in 1990 …”
- Half of second-hand mobile phones contain personal data [SMH] – “Consumers are unwittingly passing much of their most private personal data to strangers when they discard mobile phones, with intimate photos and credit card numbers and pins frequently left on handsets, according to new research. An analysis of 50 handsets bought from second-hand resellers on eBay found that more than half contained personal messages or photos, according to exclusive research from the mobile and forensics experts Disklabs. More than 60 per cent still contained phone numbers left on a call log. A number were sold with pornographic material still on the phone. […] Personal security information, including home address, credit card numbers and pin numbers, was on 26 of the handsets.”
Earlier today Facebook announced the release of their long-rumoured geographic tagging tool, Facebook Places. In a nutshell, Places will allow smartphone-wielding users to ‘check in’ at whatever notable location they happen to be, and share that information with friends on Facebook (who, as per your privacy settings, will either be a very small group or all 500 million+ Facebook users). The history of whose checked in where will become part of the Facebook record for that place, and thus any tagged comments people make in or about those places will become part of, effectively, place history.
While similar check-in services like Foursquare already exist, the huge number of Facebook users means that this has the potential to bring place-based social sharing even further into the mainstream. Indeed, at the Places launch, Facebook has already announced partnerships with many place-based services, including Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp; check-ins on those services can also become check-ins on Facebook Places in the near future.
Facebook’s unique selling point, of course, will be capitalising on the existing social networks people have established. Facebook Places will actually allow people to tag friends, much in the way you can currently tag friends in photos. One iPhone user will be able to tag the all of their relevant Facebook friends as they check-in somewhere. While this is certainly very social, it’s also a huge boon to business and advertisers, and raises a whole new raft of privacy concerns.
For businesses, especially small businesses, Facebook Places has enormous potential. Localised reviews and ratings have been popping up all over the web for years, but the reach of Facebook, and the ease of access, will make social commentary of restaurants, clubs and other businesses easily aggregateable and accessible. Facebook have already indicated that Facebook business pages will be able to integrate the related Facebook Place information. While Facebook themselves aren’t immediately releasing game-based tools with Facebook Places, canny businesses will surely take up this data to reward/encourage customers – as the have with Foursquare – ‘10 Facebook Place check-ins and get a free muffin’ will be with us soon. Of course, an inevitable legal battle is also just around the corner: which will be the first business to sue a Facebook user for a negative comment about that place? The divide between expressing an opinion, and effectively reviewing a location, will certainly blur even further.
With all of this new information sharing come massive privacy questions, and questions which in typically Facebook style they’ve deferred to an opt-out mentality: users will be able to chose, using one of those elusive privacy settings, to either disable other people checking them into places, or they can remove check-ins manually, similar to the way folks can un-tag themselves in unflattering photos. By default, though, it seems everything will be turned on, and users will have to actively seek to disable Facebook Places if they don’t wish Facebook to build a history of where you’ve been. It’s worth noting that the New York Times, The Guardian and Mashable all have articles up citing privacy concerns about Facebook Places, before the service is even a day old. It’ll be interesting to see what problems Facebook encounters with Places, but they’ll no doubt do as they always have: turn it on, let everyone try it out, then slowly deal with whatever complaints and protests arise, knowing full well that 99% of users will never leave Facebook for fear of giving up vital social capital.
Initially, Facebook Places is only available in the US (and thus the official Facebook Places page will show you nothing in Australia today) but it’s sure to land here in the near future. Oh, and no use trying to set you privacy in advance: I’ve checked, and I can’t find a way to pre-emptively disable other people checking me in; I guess I’ll have to remember to do that once the service is activated down under. Update: It’s now possible to opt-out and disable other people checking you in, no matter what country you’re in. If you want to disable other people’s ability to add you to their check-in entirely, then follow these instructions from Valleywag.
Update: While it’s pretty clear that Facebook Places is yet another tool to entice advertisers to Facebook, often seen in direct competition with Google, in a move that really highlights Facebook’s desire to challenge Google, the maps used by Facebook Places will be exclusively powered by Microsoft’s Bing Maps.
Update 2: Facebook Places went live in Australia on 30 September, and it took only hours for the first privacy concerns to arise.
Facebook-centric links April 23rd 2010:
- Facebook Instant Personalization Opt OUT [YouTube] – Quick YouTube video from EFF showing how to opt out of Facebook’s ‘Instant Personalisation’ (which is turned ON by default).
- Facebook “Likes” World Domination [Mashable] – Previous social networks, you’ll remember, were destinations. As soon as Friendster became slow and unreliable, an exodus to MySpace began. Once MySpace pages became bloated and unwieldy, the crowd hopped over to Facebook. Zuckerberg is well aware of the threat: If you build a destination site, users will hop over to the next cool hangout in no time at all. That’s why Facebook longs to become a sturdy platform. The more businesses rely on Facebook, the less likely it is to fail. […] and thousands of websites now use Facebook Connect for their login systems. The toolbar and web-wide “like” button are the next phase; by providing more distributed services, Facebook becomes invaluable. Credits, Connect, toolbars — these are all distributed plays that try to weave Facebook’s social graph throughout the fabric of the web. Rather than aiming to be the coolest bar in town — and losing its clientele when they leave for a hipper spot — Facebook plans to become the Starbucks of the web …”
- Facebook Open Graph: What it Means for Privacy [Mashable] – Sensible thoughts on the privacy implications of Facebook’s new web plugins: “… it is imperative that users who have concerns about privacy make sure they read and understand what information they are making available to applications before using them. Users need to be aware that when they “Like” an article on CNN, that “Like” may show up on a customized view that their friends see. Public no longer means “public on Facebook,” it means “public in the Facebook ecosystem.” Some companies, like Pandora, are going to go to great lengths to allow users to separate or opt out of linking their Pandora and Facebook accounts together, but users can’t expect all apps and sites to take that approach. My advice to you: Be aware of your privacy settings.”
- Facebook introduces Docs, based on Microsoft Web Office [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – A good at the differences between Google and Microosft/Facebook’s cloud office tools: “Facebook Docs is still in beta, so it’s not clear how many features it will offer. However, Microsoft’s Web Apps suite is more powerful than Google Docs, and has the advantage of maintaining compatibility with the desktop version of Microsoft Office. With Google Docs, by contrast, what you get out of it is worse than what you put into it, so trying to “round trip” complex documents is basically a waste of time. Of course, Microsoft Office Web Apps will be available to everyone whether they are a member of Facebook or not. Facebook is providing the social features, such as documents appearing on walls and in profiles so that friends can comment on them, and so on. For some users, the combination will be worthwhile.”
- Introducing Docs… for Facebook [Docs.com Blog] – Microsoft’s online office 2010 offering ‘Docs’ partners with Facebook, allowing Facebook users to sign in, share and collaborate on documents. Clearly a direct challenge to Google’s emerging Google Docs and Spreadsheets.
- Breaking: Android – Now On The iPhone [App Advice] – One way around iPhone love but no wanting to be locked into Apple’s AppStore is simple: hack it and install Android instead! 🙂
Rather Google-centric links January 13th 2010:
- Google ‘may end China operations over Gmail breaches’ [BBC News] – “Internet search company Google says it may end operations in China over alleged breaches of the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. It said it had found a “sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China”. It did not specifically accuse China’s government but said it was no longer willing to censor its Chinese site’s results, as the government requires. Google said the decision may mean it has to shut the site, set up in 2006.” Google’s certainly showing some real guts; read their official statement.
- Google finally enters the online storage arena with a free 1GB [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – With the announcement that Google are now supporting online file storage of any file-type via Google Docs the fabled GDrive appears one step closer! Jack Schofield examines Google’s online storage foray: “First, as Google says, you will be able to share files that Google Docs can’t handle, presumably including avi and MP3. That is clearly useful. Second, Google Docs can be a problem for companies sharing Microsoft Office files, because the features you lose when you convert to Google’s formats you can never get back. Google Docs storage will now let people share those files. And third…. Google is planning to launch ChromeOS, where computers run a Chrome browser but have no permanent local storage: everything is done “in the cloud”. Google probably does not plan to tell those folks to go somewhere else to store their files, so at that point it will need an online storage offering.”
- Uni staff migrate to the cloud [The Australian] – “More universities are set to follow Macquarie and outsource staff email to parties such as Google’s Gmail, with Curtin University close to a deal with Microsoft. About 14 Australian universities have already outsourced their student email to Gmail or Microsoft’s Live@edu service, but this week Macquarie became the first to migrate staff to the so-called cloud in a deal with Gmail. The cloud is jargon for the outsourcing of email and data services to external providers that host the data on servers that can be located across the world. Concerns about the security of intellectual property and academic privacy had made universities cautious about moving staff to the cloud. But Macquarie’s chief information officer Marc Bailey said the likes of Google and Microsoft offered vastly superior security to a university.” (Given how frustrating current arrangements can be, I welcome a cloud-based email system for Curtin staff!)
- Google Plans to Upgrade Old Billboards in Street View [RW Web] – Google’s street view becomes a virtual advertising landscape! Inspired by Minority Report perhaps? “According to a new patent that was just granted to Google, the company could soon extend the reach of its advertising program in Google Maps to Street View. This patent, which was originally filed on July 7, 2008, describes a new system for promoting ads in online mapping applications. In this patent, Google describes how it plans to identify buildings, posters, signs and billboards in these images and give advertisers the ability to replace these images with more up-to-date ads. In addition, Google also seems to plan an advertising auction for unclaimed properties. In Google’s example, the software could identify the marquis and individual window posters on a theater property and replace them with new information. Through this, a theater could promote a new play in Street View, even if the actual Street View image is completely out of date.”
Links for December 16th 2009 through December 18th 2009:
- Privacy groups challenge Facebook on new settings [BBC News] – “Ten privacy groups in the US have filed a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission over Facebook’s new privacy settings. They argue that privacy on the social networking site has been adversely affected as the firm encourages users to open up their profiles. The company changed its privacy settings, ostensibly to make it easier for users to control their profiles. But it also made it easier for content to be shared with all Facebook users. The idea that personal photos and comments can be seen by all 350 million Facebook users has angered privacy groups. The complaint, filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and signed by nine other privacy groups, argues that the recent changes “adversely impact users”. Facebook’s changes to users’ privacy settings disclose personal information to the public that was previously restricted,” the complaint read. “
- Microsoft admits code theft for Chinese blog Juku [BBC News] – “Microsoft has indefinitely suspended its Chinese microblogging service MSN Juku after admitting that it “copied” code used to create the site. A vendor contracted to work for the software giant was caught lifting code from a rival Canadian start-up, Plurk. According to Plurk as much as 80% of the basecode was “stolen directly”. Microsoft apologised to Plurk, saying “we are obviously very disappointed but we assume responsibility for this situation”.”
- Child groups slam Conroy’s ISP filtering plans – internet content filtering, mandatory internet fitering, National Children’s and Youth Law Centre (NCYLC), Save the Children [Computerworld] – Children’s rights groups have spoken out against the Federal Government’s plans to introduce mandatory ISP-level filtering, saying it will not effectively protect children. International child rights group, Save the Children, said while it congratulates the government on its attempt to improve the safety of children online, an ISP-level filter is not the best way to offer protection. Child rights specialist, and organisation spokesperson, Dr Annie Pettitt, said it would be more appropriate for the government to educate children and families about appropriate and safe Internet use. “The filter could lull parents into a false sense of security thinking that it is working, but we know hackers are always ahead of those filtering technologies,” Pettitt said. “We could be left in a situation where we think that the filter is sorting out stuff, when in fact it’s not.””
Links for December 13th 2009 through December 15th 2009:
- Microsoft Leads By Example, Steals Plurk Code [Inquisitr] – Software giant Microsoft has long punished legitimate users in an effort to stop the piracy of its software, but apparently Microsoft now thinks it’s ok to steal….at least when they do it. Microblogging service Plurk, which has become Asia’s most popular microblogging platform is pissed, and rightly so, because Microsoft not only copied their look for a competing product launched recently in China, they actually lifted 80% of the code as well. The Plurk team writes “We’re still in shock asking why Microsoft would even stoop to this level of willfully plagiarizing a young and innovative upstart’s work rather than reach out to us or innovate on their own terms. Of course, it just hits that much closer to home when all your years of hard work and effort to create something unique are stolen so brazenly. “
- The Complete Guide to Google Wave: How to Use Google Wave – Useful guide to understanding Google Wave. The chapters all available for free under a Creative Commons license.
- Is the DVR Helping or Hurting Your Favorite Show? [ArtsBeat Blog – NYTimes.com] – “Nielsen’s list of the top 10 time-shifted prime time television programs. These aren’t the 10 most-recorded shows, per se, but the 10 shows whose ratings have benefited most from time-shifted viewings. The shows, and the percentage increases that their ratings have enjoyed from time-shifting, are:
1. “Battlestar Galactica” (59.4)
2. “Mad Men” (57.7)
3. “Damages” (56.3)
4. “Rescue Me” (53.2)
5.(tie) “True Blood” (46.9)
5.(tie) “Stargate Universe” (46.9)
7.(tie) “Sanctuary” (45.9)
7.(tie) “Heroes” (45.9)
9. “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (45.5)
10.(tie) “10 Things I Hate About You” (44.9)
10.(tie) “Dollhouse” (44.9)
10.(tie) “Melrose Place” (44.9)”
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