Monday, November 15, 2010

Summary of Location Based Applications and Facebook places integration

A number of location applications (foursquare, gowalla, scvngr) are partnering with Facebook and their Facebook Places service. This will allow Facebook Deals, and advertising product, to get a lot more data than just Facebook Places was providing. This means more location based deals for consumers and a much better product for businesses interested in advertising and customer data.

Nothing about Google Buzz apparently. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google maps for mobile and google buzz

Buzzzzzzz! You might have heard or tried this new google application. It integrates fully with gmail to provide a new and rapidly expanding layer of social networking to the popular web based email client. But, have you heard about its geolocation features? When you post publicly with a location enabled device your little status updates can show up on google maps. Right now this is only available on android powerd devices and the iphone through the google maps application.

Is this a privacy issue or will it enable a new level of sharing and worldwide interaction? Probably both. Within my first few minutes of using this feature I had replied to buzzes from 4 continents and some islands that I will probably never visit. True, you can do that with twitter but it feels much more interactive and fun here. Its also potentially more invasive as you're somewhat linking your email accounts together, a much more personal interaction than a twitter profile.

How does this differ from google latitude, the failed geolocation application that was supposed to have learned from the startup dodgeball? It really doesn't. Except that this actually is fun. Why is it fun? I can't even tell you. It doesn't have a game element like foursquare, gowalla, or mytown. It doesn't have a let's share where we are so we can meet up and party attitude like brightkite or dodgeball. It's basically just google latitude done over again. The main difference that I see here is that instead of approaching it from a privacy concerned viewpoint it just popped up as a new layer on my map, and it was full of little bubbles I could read. Compare this to brightkite, a service that started in Denver and for years has tried to get this late adopter city to post geolocation statuses, and the the difference is immediately apparent. On brightkite there are "2" status updates within 4 kilometers of me in the past 2 hours. Then look at the image above. Buzz has been up for about 24 hours and look at all those messages. Whether or not Buzz is a facebook or twitter killer, I don't know, but bye bye brightkite. All bk has going for it is its facebook integration, which buzz is not likely to get.

 We'll just have to see how this plays out, but its very interesting and I predict incredibly explosive growth unlike anything we've seen before.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Twitter, hashtags, and implied trust

As the amount of information we are exposed to increases we will have to be more conscious consumers of information. The value of information is tied to its authenticity, source, and gravity. One aspect of social networking is the question of how much information can be trusted because it comes from your "friends." This is the idea behind facebook and its new search function as well as the ability to share links, notes, and other information. We trust information from our friends more than from people we don't know. There has been some research to show how important trust is when it comes to making decisions including Abram (2008, p.468) .
The interesting thing is that in social networking applications we are making contacts that aren't really our "friends." We're adding other contacts, brief acquaintances, or people with common interests. We may be adding celebrities or or people we may never meet and even marketers and representatives of brands. And yet, do we trust what they say and how much trust do we give them? McAllister stated that interpersonal trust is measured on a gradient and is "the extent to which a person is confident in, and willing to act on the basis of, the words, actions, and decisions of another" (McAllister, 1995, p. 25). So we don't trust these contacts fully, but we probably assign some amount of trust to them based on our experience with their communications and status. Is this amount of trust quantifiable by any tools such as twitalyzer or are we on our own?
The last trust question I have is about hashtags. They are very interesting little things in the twitter world. They allow you to tag your twitter posts with a topic, conference affiliation, or other category. Besides the occasional spamming this enables, which twitter is now combating, this provides for a certain authority to a post. No longer is a post just a random thought but it has been assigned a kind of meaning, and that meaning can be associated with some level of implied trust. Attendees of a conference may follow a hashtag for their conference and posts with that tag are attributed with the understanding that this person is at their conference. They are thus "experts" of some level on this topic. They don't even have to be contacts let alone friends of yours and yet you are subconsciously assigned this level of trust to them. Are they at the conference? Are they an expert in the conference field or a novice? Is their a difference to the quality of their posts if they are at either end of the spectrum or are both valuable? Hashtags are certainly valuable in this instance, allowing you to find posts about your topic of interest regardless if you know of the poster, but how much can we trust them?
To further complicate the trust issue we have hashtag retweeters. Each time a person uses the assigned hashtag the retweeter reposts the post under the retweeter name. This is used at conferences so everyone can follow one twitter account and yet profit from the information that any attendee posts with the hashtag. This is truly an implied trust that we're dealing with though, as now the posts of strangers are being posted under the name of a trusted source. Of course the original posters name is included, but how many levels of trust can the human brain factor in when scanning this nesting of information in a twitter stream? Is the repost more trusted than the original since it now has a trusted name attached? What attached values to a twitter post make you more likely to act or use the information in a decision?
There seems to be many more questions than answers when it comes to trust and social networking right now, but it seems important to consider how much you trust the information you are presented with now that the sources are getting more complex. Timely crowdsourced information can be a powerful tool, but how do we assign value to each post and source when considering the overall value of the information?

Abram, S. & Downey E. M. (2008). Our user experience: Puzzle pieces falling into place - workshop report. The Serials Librarian, 55(3), 461-468. Hunstville, AL: Mississippi State University Libraries.
McAllister, D. J. (1995). Affect and cognition-based trust as foundations for interpersonal cooperation in organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 38(1), 24-59.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ROI in special libraries session

One of the more interesting sessions at SLA 2009 that I attended dealt with the use of return on investment (ROI) calculations in the the special library. One of the most important things for strategic knowledge centers to do is show their value, and ROI is the way to show this to the business world. Here are the interpretations of my notes from that session.
Unfortunately there is no "magic formula" for showing value. What is important and valued at your organization is going to be different, and how that value can be shown will be different as well. You will have to consider what your management and the decision makers are looking for, and show how you are providing that added value. You may have to change what you are providing to meet there needs as well. Importantly, what your organization values can also change over time, even rapidly.
One way of showing what value you add is to show what needs would be unmet if your position or department were eliminated. This feels like the "this company would fail without me" argument, but taken in realistic terms more concrete value statements can be made.
Your department can retail to other units and locations within your organization or even outside of it. What simpler way to show financial value than to charge the company for services, or at least show that you are competitive.
You may consider adding or amending your services. Perhaps more competitive intelligence is needed in your organization? "Get out of your comfort zone" and find new things you can do with your expertise besides what you've always done before.
Show your organization how you can impact or generate new revenue streams. You can control over information - use it.
Regularly revisit what you do. You must reevaluate what you're doing and determine if it is the best use of your resources. What kind of impact is your work having on the organization? Are they aware of this impact?
Find out how your accounting department reports to management. Learn their terminology and use it. Show your utilization rate in their terms.
You have the power to research and write. You can influence customers by writing articles. Use this power wisely.
Financial people know numbers and like spreadsheets. Give them something pretty to look at. You don't have to be a financial expert to make a good looking spreadsheet that shows your value.
Knowledge professionals work best when embedded. Be a part of your organization. Integrate yourself fully.
You can add some technology to make your department visible and show off your assets. Archive RSS feeds and put it all in one email for executives. This cuts the information overload that these executives face. You can allow them to subscribe to more information and provide that value added service. Provide wikis and blogs to allow executives to share unstructured content that would usually be email. Web 2.0 is here to help you and your organization, use it.
Consider ROI reporting as an opportunity. It provides you with the opportunity to show how what you're doing affects them and the larger organization. They need to know how what you're doing will benefit them in the short term if you want to have any hope of making your long term visions happen.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Brightkite application for android

Brightkite ( has release an android application (for google phones). Just when I was starting to lose faith in brightkite they do something else right.

Note, to download the application you'll need a 2d barcode reader (for which android has several).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Just days after I made a presentation about how companies can use twitter to show what people are saying about them on their own website has gone and used a twitter search for skittles as their website. Whatever you say about skittles is now posted right there, on their site. They did have to implement an age question in an attempt to block under aged viewers from the questionable content that is present when you give people this kind of a forum. Overall it seems to be quite clever though. I think it is quite a coincidence.

Also, if you click on the link to their products via a little overlay they have set up, it directs you to their wikipedia page. This I find to be also clever and brave.

There's also some facebook integration going on here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The White House adopts creative commons

Just a quick note today. The white house has adopted a creative commons attribution license. Also of note they are referring to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and to "subscribers". That part I don't get.


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