Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Digital Digest, 3rd August.

I do a thing for my agency. Be nice to keep a record of it here :)

w/c 03/08/02009

Well, hello there. One big headline really dominated new media news this week, so forgive me if it looks like there’s a shortage of ‘proper’ news. Wouldn’t you rather just have a list of fun, inventive stuff for a week anyway? So without further nonsense, in order of importance...

The main one: Microsoft and yahoo! strike a deal, at last
Their takeover bid fell through 18 months ago, but it couldn’t keep MS down. Now it’s launched into a full partnership with yahoo! which will merge Microsoft’s Bing search engine (which is gaining ground; it’s now at 9% market share) with yahoo’s ad systems and sales force. The deal involved no money being paid to yahoo whatsoever, and they predict the move won’t become profitable for two years. So this is aimed squarely at taking google down a peg. Market analysts were underwhelmed though, as they were hoping for a little more cash involved. Ad industry worldwide, long fearful of how google might abuse its near-monopoly, has welcomed the news. A decent search competitor wouldn’t hurt, after all.

Apple snubs google. Is an embargo healthy for competition?
A few developers have found their iPhone applications rejected by apple. The reason – they offer things too close to what the iPhone does, but for free. What these recent apps have in common is the use of Google Voice, a skype-like technology that allows for international calls using the internet. The speculation is that apple have been pressured to do so by the US carrier, AT&T, so that customers don’t have a free alternative to burning those minutes. Compare that to 3, whose most recent (currently running) campaign highlights their status as the first operator to offer skype on the phone. Which approach will work? 3, let’s hope.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s friend list
The pundit we’ve all be waiting for: Archbishop Vincent Nichols, (head of the Catholic church round these parts, fact fans!) has weighed in on the social media debate – and he’s not sure he likes it.

“We’re losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person’s mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point. Too much exclusive use of electronic information dehumanises what is a very, very important part of community life and living together.”

Worse, he sees it as a possible catalyst for suicide:

“Among young people often a key factor in them committing suicide is the trauma of transient relationships. They throw themselves into a friendship or network of friendships, then it collapses and they’re desolate.”

And we know that this is true. Who can forget those grisly “Bebo suicide pact” stories? Or the ‘horror’ expressed by Watchdog, MPs et al about the sudden discovery of the thousands of pro-ana (anorexia) websites out there? Social media’s great danger lies in the creation of uneven relationships between vulnerable people. And the breakdown of such relationships can lead to the breakdown of people. BUT, the transient, low-demand nature of these ‘thin networks’ (as someone on Thought For The Day called them) is their great boon. They may damage a percentage of young people, but far more see social networking as way to enter communities where they can, at last, reclaim some level of anonymity which doesn’t exist at school, at home, in their hometown. And more importantly, they get to play with their identity and experience a semblance of freedom.

This is quite interesting. Something for show and tell, fingers crossed.

An awesome thing/A terrible lesson in privacy
It’s the ever popular Shark Week on Discovery. To promote it, they’ve done a special flash site telling the stories of some famous shark attacks and disasters. With a twist. Go to the click, and click “My story”, the 4th button, to the right.

Do it now, I’ll wait.


How cool was that? Cool, but also really disturbing – because all of that info was given freely by you – or by others, and you have allowed it to remain on Facebook. Social ‘experts’ have been predicting a backlash against total freedom of personal information for a while now, and we may start to see the crest of the wave with products like SocialSafe, which creates an editable backup of all your facebook data for you to censor at leisure.

“What the fuck is social media? One year on”
A very nice, if irreverent, introduction to the importance of social media to the world – all courtesy of an agency called Brand Infiltration. What’s nice about this presentation is that there’s a fair minimum of editorialising (compared to some ‘evangelists’ anyway). Instead, it’s pretty numbers led. And funny, for a powerpoint.

Unclasses: after 15 years, the internet might teach us something
We’ve seen the democratisation of objective knowledge (Wikipedia), teaching (Wikihow), but there haven’t been so many attempts to bring the whole teaching-learning process online, in a subject-neutral way. Hopefully this will finally happen with Unclasses, a space for posting, joining and (soon) taking classes in the virtual space. Anyone can teach, anyone can learn, you just have to sign up and create/join a class. This has been done before – sort of – in Second Life, with limited success. What this will all hinge on is the power and ease-of-use of the supporting systems and materials. And, above all, the quality of the teachers.

I’ll let you know when I think of something to teach.

Mud, drugs come to spotify
There’s a thing called The Invisible Festival happening this weekend. All you need to do is download spotify, and then over the weekend some top international artists (their words, not mine), will be releasing playlists of the songs that truly inspired them, for 24 hours. You listen to them in your own time, and have a nice party to good music. Then, ideally, donate to Cancer Research UK, the IF’s chosen charity. The use of shared playlists has been catching on as a vehicle of social cohesion, but I don’t think I’ve seen a ‘celebrity playlist’ in this way before. It does open up the concept of curated playlists though.

Jackie Chan rides a Segway in Cyberworld for Kaspersky AntiVirus
I never thought I would type that sentence, but we finish off this week’s DD with possibly the best commercial ever. Remember how excited we used to be by attempts to bring computer worlds to life a la Tron, Reboot etc? The internet has found more presence in the physical world of late (smartphones and so on), and I believe this is triggering a renaissance of ‘the physical net’. Hopefully this ad paves the way that the upcoming Tron Legacy will walk.

That's that. Thought it'd be nice to have online... Any more fodder for the linkfest, leave below :)

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