June 30, 2007

Can you be too popular?

If you are Facebook you might be. As for if you are on Facebook, I doubt it. Though Jimmy Carr had over 3,000 'friends' when last I looked.

Facebook could be in a bind. A colleague (in her 20s - when to find someone on there over 29 was a rarity - yonks ago, perhaps even two months back) mentioned the site to me as something interesting businesses should be aware of and could even benefit from as a way of engaging staff and communicating with them.

As you will now know, it has exploded in a glorious example of tipping points, network theories and viral marketing frenzy. PhD students must be tripping over each other to analyse it.

The problem I anticipate is this. The company opened up its API to application developers. The scope, then, is there for all kinds of web-based tools to be accessed via Facebook - webmail to name but one. This makes it more usable but also gives good cause to corporations, already concerned about the time staff spend poking each other online to block the site.

Thus the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater.

The impact on Facebook is primarily that it gets less use and therefore less ad revenue. More significantly in the long run, however, its initial potential to connect people and maintain networks that are more than a substitute for existing tools (email, mobile etc) is reduced. Currently you can be a member of your company's network. However, for the most part businesses are not using these to engage with staff or break down silos within their organisations.

Even more significantly, Facebook is approaching the critical mass that enables us to maintain our business contacts. If you've tried to implement a CRM (customer/contact relationship management) database, you will appreciate how damned hard it is to get people to do this. Businesses are ever more intent on getting staff to leverage their external contacts - tools like Facebook could enable this.

I have a few suggestions, then, that might address this and keep Facebook accessible and potentially more useful:

1. Create a 'work-friendly' access point with slimmed down access to applications to minimise the security risks to businesses
2. Enable users to designate (non-mutually exclusive) 'work' and 'social' contacts (should they wish to) to manage reputational issues more subtly
3. Engage with major businesses to see how Facebook can be of benefit to business
4. And businesses - rather than removing access from corporate IT networks - add a fair use of social networking tools into the IT policy

Any further thoughts?

June 30, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 24, 2007

6 degrees of Wikipedia

If you're bored at work here's a mild diversion which proves strangely addictive (or perhaps that's just me).

1. Select a destination: a pop group, film, well, anything really, so say The Manic Street Preachers
2. Click on the Wikipedia Random Page
3. Try to get to your chosen destination in the fewest steps
4. Er... that's it.

So, then
1. Deepak Singh Meher (No? Me neither. An Indian Fame Academy-style show contestent apparently) to...
2. Fame Gurukul (said show) to...
3. Fame Academy to...
4. Edith Bowman (DJ and Fame Academy winner) to...
5. Top of the Pops to...
6. Britpop to...
7. The Manics

Well, maybe not 6 but I bet it could be done more quickly.

Update: naturally there is a page on Wikipedia all about this

June 24, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 25, 2005

Wry quote of the day

"For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three"
Alice Kahn

February 25, 2005 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 09, 2005

Wired 13.02: The Firefox Explosion

Great line in the current Wired:

Over the past six years, IE has become a third world bus depot, the gathering point for a crush of hawkers, con artists, and pickpockets.

Link: Wired 13.02: The Firefox Explosion.

February 9, 2005 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 13, 2004

The readable report

Many research reports that cross my desk are pretty impenetrable. However, some colleagues of mine have produced one that is brief, focussed and readable. Encouraging Green Telework does exactly what it says on the tin, and argues that the UK government is missing a trick in not using teleworking as a strategic solution for a range of policy dilemmas. The report's here to download

At the launch, Jonathon Porritt, one of our organisation's founders, made a typically robust speech exploring the policy angle further. Zdnet carries the full story

December 13, 2004 in Sustainability, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 19, 2004

Example of socio-technical capital in action

Ages ago I signed up to a mailing list with perhaps the over optimistic wish on the part of its founder that there was the critical mass of European interest in the idea of socio-technical capital: very roughly a development of the concept of social capital in which the stocks of capital may be enhanced or stored through the use of technology.

Imagine my surprise, therefore when the following email heading popped into my inbox:

'[socio-technical-EU] I'm bored and on my cam. (19 Fem Pic) Someone talk to me...'

An example of socio-technical capital in action, perchance? (Or an attempt by Will Daviesto generate a wider membership?)

October 19, 2004 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 04, 2004

CCUK โ€“ not quite coming to a computer near you

I was lured to University College London today for what was proclaimed as the 'launch [of] the UK version of the Creative Commons licences'. (For the uninitiated, the Creative Commons project enables authors to free up some of their creative endeavours for people to take and use โ€“ from this site, for example, you may 'copy, distribute, display, and perform the work'; 'make derivative works'; and 'make commercial use of the work' with a view to allow people to create new and often unexpected works - to see the license visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0/)

I was also lured to hear the ever excellent Lawrence Lessig. Lessig was there but the UK licenses don't launch until 1 November, unfortunately. So, though I sat through the copyright guru eagerly awaiting the command to 'return to your websites and prepare for UK content' all we got was an update on the project.

Most interesting, but I did feel a touch misled. Roll on 1 November is all I can say.

October 4, 2004 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 29, 2004

Ministry survives - minister hopeful

Breaking news: according to this link from the BBC tonight, Thomas Scott's Spoof website will stay online.

To be honest, I know that I have defended his site here, but is it really fair that people who think that the Ministry of Vague Affairs exists should die? Horribly? Desparately attempting to get the right beeping sound from the modem?

Surely not.

It would be too good for them...

July 29, 2004 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An agitation of manifestos

Manifestos are all the rage. The UK think-tank, ippr, launched their project to create a Manifesto for a Digital Britain last night. Hugh McLeod has been penning his answer to the Cluetrain Manifesto, aptly titled the Hughtrain. FirstMonday has just published the Manifesto for the Reputation Society. Back in June, WWF and SustainAbility launched a Media Manifesto at a seminar I organised at the BBC. And finally the bloggerati are giving their verdict on the manifesto at the heart of Seth Godin's latest venture: ChangeThis.

What is it about the manifesto that has suddenly made it the idea-vehicle of choice? It could be the fact that the political seasons, like planets, are almost in alignment: in the US Bush vs Kerry is warming up for November, whilst in Britain, the wonks (and digital wonks, particularly) are in party manifesto mode - exploring what ideas will catch the eyes of the party leaderships.

A manifesto is no mere statement but a statement with the force of argument and belief. Nor is it simply a vision; it scorns the vision as wishful thinking for a never-never future, arguing instead for change now. Moreover, the manifesto is an argument with intent and identity: demanding not only that adherents make a public stand on its behalf, but that they drive changes and are held accountable for them. Manifestos are emotional and partial, romantic and practical.

It seems that we've been through the rational bit of the tech-cycle: the idealists are back and whether we agree with them, we're given a buzz by it. Tech companies are getting excited about IPOs and technology is going to save the world. I'd watch out: it looks like we're back in 1999.

July 29, 2004 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 01, 2004

Good Fridays

The busy folk behind London by London are furiously emailing half of London with links to their new and more ambitious enterprise: The Friday Project.

They expect to do more than produce the cheerfully cynical and a irreverant stuff they have produced hitherto by actually trying to do something positive:

We realised that there was a huge need for a publishing house that was focussed on harnessing the power of the web, email, print, TV and radio to bring people together to make some kind of positive difference to the world. But in a practical, tangible way rather than an airy, intangible one.

Of course, whether this means organising a oneway ticket to Antarctica for the 'sinner or winner' man outside Oxford Circus or eradicating poverty in London by 2010, is not clear. Looks interesting, though. Do have a look yourself.

July 1, 2004 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack