Sunday, June 7, 2009

Searching social media

Slideshare presentation

Search became the main tool in discovering new information. Search becomes ubiquitous and necessary step in our social activity. To be exact, search has become an inevitable part of us. More and more of our memory we outsource to search engines. We trust them to keep overwhelming amount of information.

This presentation covers how Web 2.0 technologies influence mainstream search engines and how they form new search 2.0 paradigm in relation to social media.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May Day in Sweden

Where is your hammer, pirates?

The Pirate Bay political party and the dawn of Internet based politics came to existence on the crest of the BitTorrent TPB site activity wave. The party had given rise to similar political parties in Europe and all over the world. The party suggested reducing the copyright to 5 years, after which all works will transfer into public domain. The party focused on the right to free information and legal security issues. The party was anxious over the Anglo-Saxon and corporate influence over Swedish domestic politics.

In summer 2006 the party organized “pirate demonstrations” in Stockholm and Gothenburg. The leader of the Party said that he was satisfied by 2006 police raids, because they brought party’s political issues in the center of national political discourse. And what about Swedish citizens? Although the party claimed that there are about 1 million of active file-shares in Sweden, it received less than 1% of voters in general 2006 elections and was not presented in parliament.

The Pirate Party declared that it has more members than Green party. Actually it is logical to suppose that recent TPB trial had to increase the popularity of the Party. Nevertheless, recent demonstration on the May Day in Linkoping showed that the TPB party is far from being popular. Only few young people and five policemen actively participated in meeting. Others were sipping their coffee, having fun or taking part in left demonstrations. Actually, jugglery with Swedish flags under International, showed by local social democrats, impressed me much more.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Different approach

Is Mininova different?

For a long time I could not understand why two main BitTorrent sites – the Pirate Bay (TPB) and Mininova – are treated so differently by governments, public opinion, recording industry and Hollywood in particular. Recently TPB went through tough trial. and generated steep political wave. Though rumors are spread about recent trial against Mininova, the site continues to make profitable business.

Mininova earned €600,000 in revenue in 2006 and €1,000,000 in 2007. All this information was published by Netherlands Chamber of commerce. They say, Mininova has more downloads of copyrighted stuff in comparison with TPB. Nevertheless, this BitTorrent site is not treated by Hollywood and its advocates as an enemy, because it is ready to cooperate with recoding industry…

This May the court in Netherlands will decide if Mininova has to actively filter content from the site. “The Pirate Bay case is a criminal trial, ours is civil,” said Mininova President Erik Dubbelboer in an interview for TorrentFreak. According to him, Mininova’s case is against the company, not the individuals involved with the site

Probably, this is only partial answer. In my opinion, the reason lays mostly in political field. TPB generated strong political anti-copyright movement across all Europe. Probably, bosses of recorded industry found it more dangerous than direct material losses.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bike races

Once in Amsterdam

I like cycling in Sweden. It is well organized and quiet here. Actually, people follow rules and there is no mad competition or frantic races. Maybe I’m not right and somewhere in Stockholm you can find something similar to bicycling in Amsterdam…

Nevertheless, I was stuck seeing ordinary cycling in the center of Amsterdam. From man stepping aside from riders it looked like mad adventure. But riders were not afraid and some bicycles looked equipped for military actions not for riding…

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Power of social media

In any case Amazon failed

Actually, we can extract three main versions describing the reasons of mass lost of sales ratings on site.

First, Amazon deliberately targeted gay and lesbian-themed books. Those who took part in anti-Amazon social media rebellion were sure it was true. They were sure that corporate giant wanted to change ratings quietly.

Second, it was a technical glitch that caused problems in tens of thousands of different sites. In more detailed way, it was a catalogue error and 57,310 books belonging to different categories had been affected. This is slightly modernized version of events from Amazon side.

Third version is connected with hacking. Anonymous hacker declared in Livejournal discussion group that he injected harmful code and provoked the lost of ranks for hundreds of gay and lesbian-themed books. Though hacker “Weev” has taken responsibility for “Amazon glitch” and even partly explained the technology he used, the officials from the site rejected this version.

It was impossible to stop social media riot. Twitter, Facebook, numerous blog posts, Googlebombing, online petitions, hacking tools – all these tools were used against Amazon just in few hours. This story supports Manual Castells idea that we already have mass self-communication system. The system is multi-directed and cannot be managed from one centre. It demands completely different approaches from big business.

Nowadays it doesn’t matter, whether Amazon is responsible for changing ratings or the company just is just a sacrifice of other attempts. The reputation of Amazon suffered severely and it will demand a lot of money and efforts to restore it. It is wondering that the company which was one of the first pioneers of Web 2.0 technologies suffered from their power.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Web 2.0 vs. Web 1.0 in education

YouTube EDU launch

Few days ago YouTube EDU channel was launched. It took a year to elaborate partnership system with American Universities and colleges from concept to launch. Google suppose that more universities join YouTube EDU in next months. Actually, YouTube can be especially useful for education field. Nowadays, localized versions of YouTube exist in 22 countries. YouTube videos can be embedded in most of the social media accounts, so YouTube easily penetrates in different blogs, social networking sites, and other Social Web media. Probably, it is the most “mashable” Web 2.0 technology.

Penetration of Web 2.0 technologies into classrooms is a fact, and it is useless to reject it. Students are using laptops and smartphones; they search for information using Google or Wikipedia articles in an increasing number. They even rate their US professors on Web 2.0 site, and academia can do nothing with it. In what way do educational institutions respond to this challenge? The so called Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) systems did a lot for distant learning. Are these systems compatible with Web 2.0 technologies? It is not an easy question.

First version of WebCT system, a pioneer in creating VLE, was launched as early in 1996. In 2006 WebCT was acquired by Blackboard Inc and WebCT name disappeared. Few years earlier Moodle and later Sakai open source systems were launched. All these systems lack interaction, are very close and can be referred to Web 1.0 system. They contradict to such inherent features of Web 2.0 applications as openness, architecture of participation and user-generated model of existence.

Nevertheless, some endeavors of adapting VLE to Social Web have been made. For example, open source VLE Sakai allow students create wikis for educational purposes. Supporters of Moodle VLE open source system actively use Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, etc) as “outside” environment” to create communities and share knowledge about the system.

Though YouTube EDU project looks promising, it discovers only top of an iceberg. More and more individual attempts are being undertaken to include Web 2.0 applications into educational curriculum outside the borders of VLE systems. Though these endeavors look chaotic and irregular, their number is increasing very quickly. Further I will try to cover this issue in more details.

Friday, April 3, 2009

April Fool’s Day acquisition?

Can Twitter search be a threat to Google?
Short media review

Rumors are spreading that Google will acquire Twitter soon. Google chief executives deny it. Few weeks ago Google CEO Erich Schmidt called Twitter a "poor man's e-mail system". Some bloggers explained rumors just as a Fool’s Day jokes. Others stated that negotiations are on late stage in acquisition . Additional news came that negotiations just have begun, but Google is ready to pay in cash. The suggestion that Google is interested in Twitter’s search possibilities is not surprising. Why is Google interested? And in what way Twitter can be a competitor to Google search?

Real time search

Because of real time search possibilities, twitter search engine becomes more and more popular. For some journalists and bloggers Twitter search presents next generation of search. While Google searches the past, Twitter gives an amazing opportunity of real-time searching. Actually, these two types of search supplement each other. While Twitter cannot replace global search, it is powerful for current events.

Search engine

Twitter didn’t develop its own search technology, but acquired Summize search engine in July 2008 and adapted to its needs. The main idea was to allow users to find what is happening just now. According to journalist Erick Schonfeld, Google and other search engines capture people’s intent, but they don’t do well “what people are doing and what they are thinking about”. Twitter search engine does it.

What’s next?

For many the idea that Twitter search can threaten Google search superiority still looks unrealistic. But it can become threatening in case of acquisition of the company by Google rivals. Besides, Google can add additional functionality to its own search, adding Twitter’s functions. On the other hand, the deal can be interesting to Twitter too. It will allow monetizing Twitter with Google advertising program. By the way, Twitter continues to develop its search possibilities very quickly. New Discovery Search Engine was launched. It will be soon incorporated into users’ home pages. Now it is under testing, but information about its functionality is available.