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Links Photography Social Technology Video

Week in Links – Places everyone

Maybe one of the biggest announcements of the week surround Facebook Places becoming a reality. Facebook held a live, streaming event to announce they were getting into the location check-in game. Rather then take on the two biggest social location services Facebook is actually working with Foursquare and Gowalla. They will soon have an API for other location services to use as well. Almost instantaneously there were people referencing FB as Stalker’s Paradise.  Clearly with Places as an auto-opt-in service it could be yet another privacy concern.  If you want to block your friends from being able to “place” you Bill Cammack entertainingly walks you through the steps.  If you have the Facebook app for iPhone or use touch.facebook.com you can start using Places now.

Even before iOS4 came out and crippled my iPhone 3G, I’ve been leaning towards switching over to Android. Before I make the switch I’m bringing my 3G back to life by reverting it back to iOS3, here’s how. If you want an idea of what it’s like to switch, my buddy Arpit, wrote about his first month with Android covering some of the differences between the two platforms both as a user and a developer. A concern of many developers is if Android is a viable market place, Aaron La gives details on his experience with his Advanced Task Manager app. At $10,000 a month in supplemental income I’d say he’s doing pretty good.

Verizon has been having a good few weeks. More rumors about the iPhone coming out for the Verizon network, though I wouldn’t run to far with that one just yet. They did announce their new HD guide for FiOS subscribers. I don’t have FiOS but I’m glad to see one of the biggies pushing those Motorola boxes into the 21st century.  The current set top box that powers America’s TVs features technology that’s nearly a decade old.

They also boasted about there upcoming iPad app that’s will work as a second screen as part of their TV Everywhere.  They also talked about updating their VOD experience.  Comcast and Time Warner are also working on iPad apps.  Comcast showed their prototype  earlier this Spring at the Cable show and Time Warner shows theirs in this YouTube clip. If you’re not up to speed on TV Everywhere check out GigaOm’s Everything You Need to Know About TV Everywhere.

Though not everything has gone as Verizon would like.  Their new “rule the air” campaign is targeting women with the chance for equality, through Verizon of course. See the commercial and a great rant from TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis.

In the most recent issue of Wired, they proclaimed that the web is dead. So of course the retorts started to follow, Boing Boing uses Wired’s own numbers to show that the Web is alive, well and growing nearly exponentially.  Then again they said Print was dead, Rock was dead…Technologizer has a collection of the death of everything.

To end here’s a beautiful time-lapse video of the Perseid Meteor Showeras seen from Joshua Tree National Park and taken by Henry Jun Wah Lee .

Categories
Links Social Technology

The Week in Links

Every week I send out/post/share a number of links that I think are informative or sometimes just purely entertaining. This is my first attempt to collect them in one place. Hope you find something of worth and I welcome any comments, suggestions or links. Thanks.

Google is looking to get into the social web, they move their big idea gun Vic Gundotra from Android to all things social (Google Me) at the same time they decided to kill Google Wave, another of their social fails. Though, I believe Wave was more of a UI/workflow fail then a social failure, none the less Google has people talking. Om Malik breaks down Google’s social skills with a great analogy between cricket and baseball.

Meanwhile the current king of social media, Facebook gets some heat for their take on Yahoo! Answers, called Facebook | Questions. Based on the name alone, I’d say it’s a poor choice, who doesn’t prefer getting answers rather then more questions. Makes you question if even the mighty Mark Zuckerberg (and crew) understands his market. With that in mind here is a great rant/request for Facebook Dear Mark Zuckerberg: Ask the Question by Ellen (a Facebook user since 2007)(a Facebook user since 2007).

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Social Thoughts

Getting to know Facebook’s Open Graph

Last week Facebook announced Open Graph, a way for external sites to connect Facebook’s users and services. Open graph takes what was previously called Facebook Connect a bit further. First, it’s based on using OAuth rather then Facebook’s proprietary system. Secondly, it allows tighter integration with Facebook’s data as well as allowing 3rd parties to locally retain user data for more then 24 hours. This is a huge perk to 3rd party developers; on the flip side this is a huge privacy concern for members. Other additions include the ability for any site to embed some Facebook functionality without requiring OAuth or compromising user privacy, this is done through iFrames.

It’s this last one that initially will be Facebook’s biggest win. It includes the ability to add a “like” button to any page with a simple line of JavaScript. For external sites, like this one, the addition of a “like” button allows for a simple way for readers to share the site/page with their (the readers) friends on Facebook. Much like the Digg, Buzz Up, “post to Twitter” and other social buttons previously available. The big difference is access to Facebook’s membership numbers, especially since Facebook users encompasses a broader spectrum of the masses then most of the other services. Granted the “like” button is little more then a marketing/promotional tool for the sites that use it. For Facebook, on the other hand, it provides endless user preference data, which can be used for better ad targeting or be sold to 3rd parties. It also positions Facebook as the go to source trending information.

In addition to the “like” button, Facebook’s Developer’s guide offers a number of other widgets via iFrame/JavaScript for 3rd party sites to connect with Facebook. One widget offers a view of what other pages on the site your friends (and the world at large) “liked.” Almost instantly there was likebutton.me, a site displaying multiple instances of this widget listing what friends “liked” on some of the Internet’s bigger sites. All this is done without likebutton.me ever directly knowing who you are as each instance of the widget is actually an iFrame containing Facebook. I say “directly” because the data is readable via JavaScript post rendering. Facebook also offers a recommendations engine based on all the data collected that 3rd parties could implement. Though I need to learn more about this one myself before I can explain its particulars here.

One thing Facebook is requesting as part of the “like” button spec is the addition of meta data about the page/site that is hosting the button. The more accurate the info included the better you’ll be found within the Facebook universe. This reminds me of the early years of search engines where they relied on the honesty of the poster’s meta data for the integrity of their search algorithms. Regardless of the potential for hacking the system, Facebook has a list of requested meta data fields to be associated with the “like” button. The “type” field is potentially linked to the content listed in the user’s profile. For example, if you “like” a movie on IMDB, it can potentially be added to your profile’s list of favorite movies. Though I believe this type of connection to user data is reserved for OAuth connected clients rather then the JavaScript based “like” buttons.

The OAuth connection allows for more access to user data then ever before. OAuth now has access to profile data and the ability to locally store Facebook user data for periods longer then 24 hours. This empowers developers with the ability to parse through all the user data and make analytical connections that were previously impossible. For example if User X allows access and a week later User Y allows access, if User X is friends with User Y the data is now available to make this connection and any others that come along with the increased dataset. Additionally as an admin for pages that were “liked” you can push page updates to those users.

Overall, Facebook’s Open Graph looks like it’s worth using even if it’s only for the simple marketing benefits by adding a “like” button. Granted the real power lies in the OAuth integration. The biggest winner in all this is Facebook, as all these services places Facebook at the center of it all. As Facebook’s gravity increases they can always switch to a pay system so I don’t suggest relying solely on Facebook for the future of your site/service, but until then no reason not to take advantage of all that Open Graph has to offer.

Links:
Facebook: Open Graph
Facebook’s Developer’s guide
OAuth

Categories
Social Thoughts

There are no free lunches

One of the first thing you learn in Economics is “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” It’s a lesson that seems to be quickly forgotten. Thanks to the Internet everything seems like it can and should be free. So who’s paying?

For many sites, ad revenue is paying for the content/service being provided. Even more profitable is information, specifically user (read: your) information. The old saying that knowledge is power holds true online as well. The more info about who you are the more relevant they can target the ads presented to you. A better targeted ads bring in higher revenues.

Combining multiple user’s data into anonymous and general statistical data can be worth even more. Marketing companies will pay big money to get access to qualified demographical date. It doesn’t have to be much or even private. Knowing things like how many 11-14yr olds saw the Transformers movie, could be the deciding factor between releasing Product X or Product Y. The collecting and selling of statistical data is nothing new. It’s the same principle behind the membership cards at the grocery store, VISA and those people at the mall that just want to ask you a few questions.

Facebook like many other social networking sites are rich with statistical information. Well, a few weeks ago Facebook altered their Terms of Service (TOS) to assume permanent ownership rights of any content that the users add to their service. Then yesterday, under mass protest from users, they returned to their previous TOS while they rework the verbiage. Ultimately Facebook (and others) wants the ability to use/sell any data collected without worry of legal entanglements. Someone needs to pay for the endless hours users spend using their site.

Just like your first economics class told you, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The Internet with all it’s innovations is still subject to this rule. The free ride of the social web is paid for by the ads we see and the personal data we provide. It’s just something to keep in mind while you enjoy your lunch.