Archives for posts with tag: Internet

With the ominous SOPA act looming menacingly over the internet it is more important than ever to seek out and support progressive methods of getting artists and writers the money they deserve.

A stand-out service that I have joined is a social micropayment service called Flattr.  You create an account, choose a monthly amount of money to add to a pot (minimum 2 euros) and then click the Flattr button on webpages you like to share the money with the authors.

Kind of like tipping – the idea is simple, brilliant and completely in line with the ethos of the internet. I’ve recently noticed the Flattr button on a few websites – and I’ve started looking out for it on articles that I have enjoyed reading. It is a great way to reward bloggers for their hard work.

The service was started by Pirate Bay founder and spokesman Peter Sunde as a way to reward content creators for their work. Ambitions involve using the Flattr button to pay music and video creators as well as writers – Flattr has already teamed up with SoundCloud to include a Flattr button on their music player and there is a way to add a button to your Flickr account. YouTube are apparently keeping an interested eye on the project and Facebook are looking into delivering something similar. The service has already been used at conferences, enabling listeners to ‘Flattr’ speakers.

The Flattr team have already developed an app for Chrome that allows you to support Wikipedia by pressing a browser button whenever you have enjoyed or benefited from a Wikipedia article. As it is unofficial – they are keeping hold of the money raised and will deliver it the the Wikimedia foundation when enough money is raised. Also, when PayPal and Mastercard froze Wikileaks account – Flattr provided a way for supporters to send funds.

Flattr is a great project ran by people that really seem to value internet freedom over profit. It is a refreshing idea in an age of pay-walls and dangerous legislation, and it harks back to the democratic and collaborative origins of the internet. Money goes direct to the producer, the consumer decides what they consider a fair amount to pay and the Flattr button integrates snugly next to the Facebook ‘like’ button. It’s an idea I hope spreads – so sign up and start Flattr’ing.

Socrata – A variety of data sets with a social vibe.

Timetric – Timetric aggregates statistics from the the world’s leading sources of economic data

Google Public Data Explorer – Anyone can upload data to Google’s newly launched search service.

Infochimps – Find every dataset in the world. Upload datasets and point to others across the internet. Datasets are easily browsed and the metadata is contributed by users.

Datamarket – UN, World Bank, Eurostat, Gapminder and others all contribute to 13,000 dataests (both paid and free).

Data.Gov – American government data

Data.Gov.Uk – UK government data

Get The Data – A forum of data geeks helping you with your data queries.

QR (short for quick response) codes are 2D bar-codes that can be read by smart phones which then process information – either taking you to a website, making a phonecall, sending a v-card and more.

QR Note is a website that makes creating a QR code and website really easy. Visit the website, design your webpage and print a QR code.

QR codes are used in marketing to create an interactive and fun way to get people through doors. Scavenger hunts using QR codes have proven successful – companies can provide clues that lead to real locations where QR codes can give points or discounts.

Other uses for QR codes include business cards (one barcode instead of all your social network addresses), labels that provide further information (art galleries, wine lists etc) and discount promotions. They can even be personalised (like the BBC QR code above).

Outside of marketing they can be used for more subversive ends. For example:

  • QR codes can be stuck on adverts of unethical companies, redirecting people to a protest website.
  • QR Note enables you to password protect QR codes, meaning your message can be protected against unwanted attention.
  • Networking during protests can be improved via the business card usage outlined above.
  • Also, a QR code card can be handed out at events, directing attendees to the events website.
  • A QR code can link to a location on Google Maps.

After technology is created by humans, it goes on to shape what it is to be human. For instance, consider the ability of our younger generation to sit in front of a monitor and play a game, speak to a friend, write a blog/essay and follow a stream of news – all at the same time.

This ability was rare before the modern Windows based PC became ubiquitous. Mastery over navigating computer windows has changed the way our mind learns.

A computer user smoothly moves from one activity to another. Often the contents of one activity informs and influences how the user understands and processes the contents of another activity. As Bert Olivier explains:

‘Before the advent of computers and the internet, intellectual activity was largely determined by the prevailing experiential and didactic model to be linear, syntagmatic (semiotically sequential), instead of a combination of syntagmatic and paradigmatic (semiotically associative).’

So, at a rudimentary level, the development of the internet has improved our ability to think in an associative way (to the detriment of a linear way of thinking).

Both ways of thinking have benefits and pitfalls – but one particular benefit of associative thinking is its association with metaphor.

Metaphor is an important but often neglected part of our life (we use about 6 metaphors every minute). Metaphor is what we turn to when we need to express abstract thoughts- thoughts ranging from love to philosophy.

In Aristotles words ‘metaphor is giving a name to a thing which is something else’. By saying that one thing is another thing, the mind is forced into a powerful associative process of re-understanding – it delves into a network of analogies. It helps us change our perceptions, discover new ways of expression and understand difficult concepts.

Marco Bertolini gives a talk at TED about why metaphor is so important to any decision making process. He describes an experiment that asks subjects their opinion about a scenario in which a small democratic country is invaded and appeals to the US for help. The question is,  should the US intervene?

Test subjects were asked their opinion, but the question was framed in one of three different contexts – one of World War 2, one of Vietnam and one of a neutral conflict. Those exposed to the WW2 scenario supported intervention significantly more than those that were not.

Of course, the likelihood is that many of those test subjects would not have based their decision on just one context if the event were to happen in real life. The internet would have allowed them to hear multiple perspectives, often simultaneously, all of which would have impinged on their final decision.

So the associative learning that comes from time spent on the internet should be seen as liberating, and a great way to improve our metaphorical way of looking at the world.

Of course, it also means that people are less susceptible to propaganda. But then, metaphor has always been the enemy of propaganda.

With Facebook announcing a major new messaging system (codenamed Project Titan) and Google snapping up acquisitions all over the place (83 so far) – what is the fundamental difference between these two giants of cyberspace?

The answer lies in the kind of data that they both deal in.

Facebook lets you tell the world all about you – what you ‘like’ about culture, companies and people. It is data that you want to give away so that you can show other people just how much of an individual you are.

Google, on the other hand, is a lot more personal than that. It is about what you really get up to when it is just you and the computer. It stores data about everything from your embarrassing rash to your sexual desires.

As Sebastian Anthony puts it:

‘Facebook knows who we want to be, while Google knows who we actually are.’

We could see this as Facebook being all about your public self, whilst Google is all about your private self.

Of course, the bottom line for the companies involved is all about how this fundamental difference affects revenue. Facebook advertises to your public self, and Google advertises to your private self.

The question now is whether Project Titan will change this fundamental difference by reading your Facebook emails and targeting adverts (something which Google already do).

This would be an advertising model based on both your private and public identities. Priceless to marketers, but something that I find unsettling.

Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian Editor in Chief, has outlined 15 reasons why Twitter is important. I have listed them below and then added 5 other reasons. I’ll add more as I think of them.

  1. It helps with distribution of news.
  2. It is often the source of breaking news.
  3. It can often outdo Google when it comes to search.
  4. It is a formidable aggregation tool.
  5. It is a great reporting tool – for both finding information and asking the crowd.
  6. It is great for marketing and letting people involved in your content know that it is there.
  7. It is a series of common conversations with instant feedback
  8. It is diverse environment.
  9. It is opening up a new tone of writing – brief but humourous, succinct and more personal.
  10. It levels the playing field – hard work is rewarded.
  11. It has different values – a story may make in all the nationals but have little Twitter impact, and vice-versa.
  12. It has a long attention span – conversations around a topic can last for ages.
  13. It creates communities.
  14. It changes notions of authority.
  15. It is an agent of change.

And here are my additions:

  1. You can follow events as they unfold – any news event will be given a hashtag and you can easily find help from the eyes on the ground.
  2. It allows you to be in several places at once.
  3. It encourages serendipity – you stumble across ideas and people that will completely change your opinions and direction.
  4. You can contact people directly – and it is much more likely you will get a response.
  5. It is perfect for finding the exact person you are loooking for – not to mention the possibilities in Geo-Tagging.

The amount you can fit into the 140 character limit of a tweet has just had a significant increase. Popular link sharing website bit.ly has began to offer a way to send multiple links as one shortened URL – Bit.ly Bundles.

Bit.ly aren’t the first company to do this – I’ve been using Fur.ly for some time to send multiple links – but they are the first ‘big’ brand to do so. And I hope they are the ones to help it really catch on.

As you would expect, the process is refined. You can arrange the links in your bundle, add notes, descriptions and headings, share your bundle and then start a conversation.

I have always been surprised that more people don’t tweet multiple URL’s. The possibilities are endless and it is a brilliant way to tell a story.

You could:

  • Collect a series of related Youtube videos
  • Show all the links in an internet debate or controversy
  • Tweet your morning reading to your followers
  • Show off your favourite sites
  • Give all the perspectives in an argument
  • Collect a series of training materials

Can you think of any more?

One feature that I would love to see is the ability to automatically create a bundle from al the links I have open in my browser.

(Bit.ly Bundle is part of my Web 2.0 Toolbox)

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