Questioning the value of the online experience

Just finished reading Digital Vertigo by Andrew Keen.  Excellent book – should be compulsory reading for anyone like me who spends a reasonable amount of time participating in/ contributing to social networks.  Questions the value of much of this – and the gradual elimination of privacy.  More of this anon.

This piece from the Verge provides another perspective.  Paul Miller has recently completed 12 months ‘offline’.  And while he saw/ experienced benefits he missed the online experience and the online community.

The reality is that online communities do not replace traditional communities, facebook friends do not equate with ‘friends’ – but they do provide another communications channel. I think, as more and more data is gathered (e.g. location fro mobile devices) privacy is greatly undermined – if not eliminated.  But here is Miller admitting he missed it.

Swings and round abouts.  I probably stay in contact with some people (primarily in other countries) on a more regular basis because of social networks. But perhaps some of the communication is lesser than were I to phone more often, travel to meet more often write more letters.

 

 

 

 

2011 reflections on IT

Another year has whizzed bye.  Maybe it’s something to do with running your own consulting business, having a very active family and having a curious mind.

So what sticks in my mind in terms of technology – looking back on 2011?

What have I really liked?

I have been very happy with my Android phone – Samsung II.  Great phone, easy to use, great camera, easy integration with lots of social networks etc.  Would be lost without a smartphone.

Have found myself leaning much more towards Twitter than Facebook.  Have really found Twitter useful in terms of work related research, staying in contact with other professionals, developing my own profile.  Notwithstanding this Facebook is a daily platform for me – and has lured me into chess.com.  Typically have one or two chess games on the go (48 hours to move).

I have stuck with FourSquare.  Most of my acquaintances run a mile from FourSquare – why would you want to share your location?  I think this type of location based software has a long way to run.

Have enjoyed listening in to TWIT.TV (Leo Laporte’s This Week in Technology).  I tend to download the podcast and listen to it on one of my walks.  He has had some great guests during the year and some great debates – even last week with regard to restrictions on software copying.

Leo Laporte has got me to sign up to tow of his sponsors: www.Audible.Co.UK and Carbonite.  Audible I sue to download books which I listen to when walking, taking public transport, even at home rather than reading the physical book (nice break for the eyes).  I am using Carbonite to back up my data.

I have implemented encryption using TrueCrypt – seems to work very well.  And seems to be gaining in popularity wherever I go.

And EverNote – what a great application.  Increasingly I find myself using Evernote to capture meeting notes.  And it’s available on my Android phone when I need to access a note.

Finally – Google+.  I definitely like it.  And it looks like it has traction.  But then Google has some influence!  And I should say I have had a great year with Google Apps – has not let me down.  The world needs Google and Microsoft competing – at least you can now shop and compare between the two cloud offerings.

What have been my other observations?

Lots of disillusioned IT teams in corporate world.  Lots of them working with reduced budgets, smaller teams but many of the same challenges.  Many of their users have lots more technology available to them at home or on their phones – real challenges in providing stimulating corporate IT environments to end users.

Understanding the economics of the cloud is challenging.  If I have 100 Offce/ Exchange users does it make sense to sign up to Office 365 (or Google Apps)? Do the price points make sense?  Green field site v. established business.  Many people unconvinced about the economics.  Many people committed to cloud approach.  Debate is vigorous.

Regardless, operating from Ireland, with its current economic challenges, web based technologies are being embraced and lots of entrepreneurs emerging with ideas which exploit these technologies.

 

 

 

 

What’s happening with google+?

I tried out Google plus at launch time (more accurately when I got an account).  However I have continued to treat is as an experiment pending proper integration with google apps.  Where is that?

Google owns most recent results make for impressive reading.  But what of google+?  Seems to me that Facebook has been doing a good job of making their platform more useful – in terms of using it to communicate with different groups/lists of users.

This report suggests that google plus may be struggling to maintain initial momentum.  Obviously there have been some unfortunate PR incidents  – suggesting that not all senior Google execs are equally committed.

It;s a difficult space – when you want to break into a market dominated by Facebook.  For now I think Google plus has sharpened up people at Facebook.  But that cannot be the end game for Google.

How much impact is Google+ having on Facebook?

I have been blogging recently, again, on the question of the misuse of the word ‘friends’ in the social networking world.  The use of the word ‘contacts’ by Linkedin may be a better use of the English language than ‘friends’ by Facebook.

Interesting developments recently from Facebook – it would seem that privacy and the meaning of ‘friendship’ are beginning to be of concern to Facebook.

The latest is the introduction of the ‘Subscribe’ button.  This looks like the introduction of Twitter type ‘follow’ functionality – in  Facebook context.  Will be interesting to see how the Facebook community takes to this option.  Looks like we will all get to choose the level of updates we will be bombarded with my our ‘friends’.

One can only wonder whether it has been the emergence of Google+ which has finally brought some real changes in Facebook and how its user community are treated.  (Perhaps no different to Ryanair beginning to be a little bit more passenger conscious as it seeks to compete for business passengers?)

No sign of a slow down in use of social networks

I come across anecdotal evidence of people becoming bored with social networks – suggesting they may shut down their Facebook account, don’t see the point of twitter, etc.  Latest report from Nielsen on the US market firmly gives the lie to this.

The reality appears to be that people are spending more of their online time in social networks.  And that’s not really very surprising – particularly if they are managing their participation in a way which provides them with value e.g. using Twitter to follow particular interests, using Facebook or Google+ to interact with specific groups of people.

I posted the other day on the subject of ‘Friends or Not‘. Social networks are not without their negatives e.g. irrelevant data, self  censorship, etc.  But the plain reality is that they do offer all sorts of ways to present information in context.

Would be interesting to see similar analysis for the local marketplace in Ireland.  I suspect it is not very different.  I think the other day I heard back from a younger family member ‘No I did not get your email, I use facebook’.  Things continue to move on in social networking and instant messaging.

Friends or not?

Social networks may be detracting from rather than contributing to friendships

Jay Baer just beat me to it.  In his case this article seems to have been inspired by the tragedy of a suicide of an online friend.

I’ve blogged on this topic before – the misuse of the word ‘friend’ by social networks such as facebook.

Friendship takes time and lots more.  They develop out of all sorts of situations but they take time.  The trust in a friendship is not built online.  It requires real socialisation – being with people in different situations.  Some friendships last through rows, disappointments, whatever; other friendships dissolve.  And then retrospectively we questions whether it was in fact a friendship.

Baer touches on another interesting point – the self censorship that we exercise in online communities – because the ‘friends’ are not all friends.  And a downside of this is that the communication does not server to promote/ reinforce friendships as a result.

Initially many of used Facebook got friends and blogging, LinkedIn and even twitter for business.  That has since changed radically – a network of 700m+ people (Facebook) is too big to be ignored for potential business advantage.

Baer says that he is going to make a real effort – even at the cost of less online contributions.  I think he is right.

 

 

 

Using location based services – have I missed the point?

I have been making some use of foursquare for a number of months.  Previously also tried the google latitude solution. Not convinced that either has been of any real benefit to me.

Examples of my use of foursquare: checking in when attending a football match, a concert, a restaurant, a conference.  Apart from telling people that I am there what has been the benefit.  And has that in itself been a personal positive or personal negative?

Google Latitude I tried with a small number of colleages for a period of time.  However we generally found it intrusive and impacted far too negatively on our privacy – such as it is.

There was talk about using location based services to target me with offers in my location e.g. you are now in Dublin 4 and here is a coffee shop offering a free scone with every cup of coffee.  The value proposition is not standing up – am wasting too much time checking in, sharing too much information about my whereabouts – all for no real value.

According to the survey just released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project:

28% of American adults use mobile and social locationbased services

This survey includes using solutions to get directions within ‘location based’.  I certainly make good use of ‘Navigation’ on my Android phone when trying to find various sportsgrounds all over the city for the first time at the weekend as we act as chauffeurs to various football and hurling teams.  And this is a location base service – in the sense that it is aware of where I am when I am trying to find a route to somewhere else.

So, overall, am disappointed with the benefits to date of location based services (other than navigation type services).  Perhaps it is also a generational thing e.g. perhaps other age-groups are using these services as an integral pert of their social lives.

Why is google+ important to google?

Interesting analysis on use of social network id’s to log into other sites.

So perhaps, in spite of much of the inane rubbish posted on social networking sites, these same sites are going to win out because they have become the holders of profiles we use for identifying ourselves across the web.  The analysis is interesting in that it shows that Facebook leads the way – another reason that google needs to win with google+.

 

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