Thursday, 30 June 2011

Tweeting levels from London pensions protest

Today, June 30th there will be a demonstration starting from Lincoln's Inn Field London. We will be tracking the intensity of on the ground real world tweets coming from the location all day. You can follow the progress of the protest using the frame. Click here and navigate around the map to see the levels of high density and normal density tweeting coming from the location.

We are following the #DayOfAction on twitter for information, and we have created a Storify article on the site.

As the protest moves across London we are seeing rather high elevation in tweeting levels.

In defence of spam

A plea for an unpopular cause

Imagine every person passing through a community is given a message. The message is thrust at them by someone they do not know and will likely never know. The person reads the message and become enraged. The message essentially insults and humiliates the persons values, the message claims that the person has been involved in evil things and that he, his family and everyone he loves will go to hell.

Spamming, hurtful insulting spamming. This is the kind of thing that our modern Internet technology is working to block. People who distribute unsolicited messages are routinely blocked by services and filters.

Now return to the example of the message. One fact I forgot to tell you is that the year in 1845, the city is New York and the message was a pamphlet against slavery.

Actually the entire history of American revolution is full of pamphlet creation and distribution. Short documents on the rights, taxation, government forms, and nation strategy were widely distributed in public spaces. These documents were not only targeted at reaching people who agreed with causes, but also to try and convert people to the new view. In a word democracy was born on spam.

The modern American institutions of democracy, free press, religion, and civil rights all started with spam. Each of these movements started with someone producing documents on the printing press, and distributing these documents in public spaces.

And this very conduct is now considered spam. The attack on spam has extended beyond obvious efforts to sell questionable items or fraud. But these distinction is less and less made. In our ongoing war on spam the Internet threatens abolishing the public distribution of data to people who don't request that data before hand.

If we create an Internet where people will only get data they have already requested we could get a Google nightmare where people simply use the web to reinforce their views on the world. This trend to channel humans is the most destructive outcome of the expansion of cable news in the late 20th Century. People at that time went to the web in part to get away from the isolation of the citizen as a consumer never challenged by media. The current development of the web risks making this problem even worse.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Tweeting in Tahrir

Tahrir Square we are seeing relatively high tweeting in Tahrir on reports that violence of some kind may have broken out. We are not yet seeing unusually high tweeting, but these levels are near where they were during the Mubarak protests, and it is late.

Android's stunning rise!

"Google’s Android chief Andy Rubin tweeted this morning to announce that Google is now activating 500,000 devices each day, a 100,000 increase since it’s last announcement at Google I/O in May."

We think our love for the Android OS has come across pretty clear. We have only been using the OS for about 6 months but its hard for us to even think of life without it. Presently in our research and development are take on Android and testing is as follows:

1. First test on Android
2. Then test on as many Android devices as you can find
3. Only if it passes Android testing do you start iPhone testing.

500,000 devices activated per days is not a true indication of the number of users. Between the 3 key members of the Web 3.0 Lab we use a total of 6 Android devices. We have 4 Android tabs and 2 phones. But its unlikely that most users have more than 1 or 2 devices. So we can assume that probably 400,000 users are coming to the Android platform a day and growing.

To put this in perspective, at this rate Android would would get 3 million users a week. It would take Android far less than a year to match the size of Facebook, and we anticipate Android will grow even faster later this year.

Android simply has it all: its robust, its light weight, it links to Google and with 1 Billion Google user accounts it already has much of your stuff, and its pretty open, easy to code for and not exclusive. As a platform it is faster, more stable, and more expendable than iOS. Blackberry, Microsoft and Symbian are either not serious alternatives to it.

As more and more small devices begin to expand it becomes harder and harder to see device makers not going for Android. Soon there will be 20 Billion devices online, most of them will be machines with no human intervention. We anticipate that Android will be the OS of androids. When you oven and heater are online are you really going to want to pay Microsoft a license fee? And technically who really is more excellent? Does anyone thing that any firm will get there first?

Wave and Google Docs may have faltered before the rise of SharePoint, but in a deeper way Microsoft is in real danger of becoming second class before Android.

Microsoft's biggest money earning mobile platform is Android

"Microsoft’s patent arsenal is often its weapon of choice when it wants to turn the screws on its competition. And there has been perhaps no more famous example in recent months of this than its legal actions against Android vendors to force them to cough up per unit royalties to avoid the company’s legal wrath.

"At the rate that HTC is rumored to pay the company (between five and ten dollars per shipped unit), Microsoft is almost certainly profiting more off of the success of Android than it is from its own mobile line, Windows Phone 7.

"The latest domino to fall is a firm called General Dynamics Itronix, a maker of rugged computers and tablets. While the company’s computers run Windows, it does offer Android tablets. Microsoft and Itronix did not disclose the terms of the agreement, but made it plain that Itronix is paying Microsoft:"

Okay putting aside the disturbing fact that Microsoft is getting a cut out of Android via simply threatening to sue companies, is this a good move for Microsoft?

Well for share holders in Microsoft it means that the company is generating revenue despite failing to make any traction in mobile. So for the time being if Microsoft can't see its mobile platform at least it is making some money.

But assuming that Google can prove that Android does not violate any of Microsoft's copyrights this could be a very bad long term move by a firm desperate to deal with the pace of change mobile is bringing to the industry. If a future court decision rules against Microsoft it is unlikely that these revenues will last long. And given enough time Google should be able to change Android to remove any claim Microsoft might have.

The key thing to remember is that there is a difference between revenue and value. Revenue is bags of money. If you want to make a quick buck bag money is fine. This is not Microsoft's long term business. In Android Google is making the value and Microsoft is making some revenue, in time the fate of Microsoft's revenue is in the hands of Google, who is creating the value.

Microsoft desperately needs to get value out of mobile. Despite some rave reviews for Windows 7 mobile the platform has been a failure. Everyone is looking at the Nokia Microsoft phone coming out later this year, but neither Nokia nor Microsoft are coming to this from a position of strength. If the Nokia N series with Windows 7 does not get off to a stellar start it would be hard to see shareholders in Nokia not demanding a Android Nokia sometime early in the new year.

Microsoft has been able to weather failures on the PC platform before. Early Windows and Vista were major failures for the firm, but through raw determination and business, if not technical discipline the company was able to hold itself together long enough to win.

But Microsoft is facing something in Google's Android it has never faced before: a common distribution OS that is better than its own that any vendor can install. In the early battles with Apple Microsoft could count on its army of PC makers to produce a wide range of hardware that would undercut Apple time and time again. Apple's decision to sell a hardware-software package played right in to Microsoft's hands. Companies that wanted to enter the market generally had to work with Microsoft in order to take on Apple.

In Android Google has played Microsoft's own game. People are moving from Apple to Android just as they may have moved from the early Mac to Windows 95. Lawyers and agreements will not be able to change that. Microsoft may actually be in a time frame it is not familiar with. It may have had years to get Windows right, and years to make up for Vista. But in the mobile phone it may find that it slow deliberate pace can't keep up with the new age.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Suddenly, Facebook Shuts Down Apps Left And Right

"The reason is Facebook didn't really police these 'small' apps before and now has rolled out an algorithm that automatically shuts them down if they post too often to users' walls, etc. The problem is that Facebook didn't tell app makers it was going to do this, so these just woke up Friday and saw their app had been shut down, and very understandably freaked out."

Another sudden change at Facebook. It seems the firm is having a hard time finding a direction. Frankly Developer Loves have done little as far as we can tell to clarify how the Facebook can work as a framework. Certainly Facebook does not yet provide the kind of Framework that comes from Microsft's Azure and .NET frameworks or Googles Maps APIs.

This industry is a 'cold heartless bitch', with social networks and new apps rising and falling almost as fast as the news cycle. Today with social shopping and other Web 2.0 apps you are unlikely to hear about a new service before it collapses.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Did Facebook ruin web discourse?

Above is the Listening Post Exhibit at the Science Museum in London. This art work:

Listening Post is a ‘dynamic portrait’ of online communication, displaying uncensored fragments of text, sampled in real-time, from public internet chatrooms and bulletin boards. Artists Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin have divided their work into seven separate ‘scenes’ akin to movements in a symphony. Each scene has its own ‘internal logic’, sifting, filtering and ordering the text fragments in different ways.

The work is a collaboration by Ben Rubinis (sound designer and multimedia artist) and Mark Hansen (artist and statistician). An interesting thing happened when we went to see the work in the summer of 2011, its vocabulary has become limited to sentences "I like" and "I love", watch:

We suspect that Facebook constant like button, followed by the push button nature of recent Web 2.0 has done something to reduce the quality of expression on the web. Rather than concepts of the self that involve "I am", "I think", "I believe", or "I hate" we are now being more and more reduced to recommendation machines able to say only "I like", to the point where the web is reading all our interests, our thoughts and our concerns as "likes" and nothing more.

This reduction of us to clicks of "pokes" "likes" and the ultimately meaning term "tweet" makes much of the flood of online discourse empty. Facebook, we suspect, has rendered the web much more empty of content that can be read.

If Facebook's intention is to gather data for marketing we assume that this is actually hurting its own cause. Clicking "like" or "tweeting" is not so much a violation of privacy as a violation of self. It sets us up to be little more than the Roman mob, indifferent to the human drama before us and only able to register a thumb up or down.

Dense web data has been created for the area around London Science Museum:

Did Facebook ruin web discourse?

Above is the Listening Post Exhibit at the Science Museum in London. This art work:

Listening Post is a ‘dynamic portrait’ of online communication, displaying uncensored fragments of text, sampled in real-time, from public internet chatrooms and bulletin boards. Artists Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin have divided their work into seven separate ‘scenes’ akin to movements in a symphony. Each scene has its own ‘internal logic’, sifting, filtering and ordering the text fragments in different ways.

The work is a collaboration by Ben Rubinis (sound designer and multimedia artist) and Mark Hansen (artist and statistician). An interesting thing happened when we went to see the work in the summer of 2011, its vocabulary has become limited to sentences "I like" and "I love", watch:

We suspect that Facebook constant like button, followed by the push button nature of recent Web 2.0 has done something to reduce the quality of expression on the web. Rather than concepts of the self that involve "I am", "I think", "I believe", or "I hate" we are now being more and more reduced to recommendation machines able to say only "I like", to the point where the web is reading all our interests, our thoughts and our concerns as "likes" and nothing more.

This reduction of us to clicks of "pokes" "likes" and the ultimately meaning term "tweet" makes much of the flood of online discourse empty. Facebook, we suspect, has rendered the web much more empty of content that can be read.

If Facebook's intention is to gather data for marketing we assume that this is actually hurting its own cause. Clicking "like" or "tweeting" is not so much a violation of privacy as a violation of self. It sets us up to be little more than the Roman mob, indifferent to the human drama before us and only able to register a thumb up or down.

Glastonbury Festival Tweeting Levels

We are seeing extremely high tweeting from the Glastonbury area as a massive surge of digital natives tweet everything from the festival.

At the height of the Glastonbury Festival tweeting from this temporary city reached 97 on our scale. That is as high as you will generally see in a major urban center at a significant event. A week later it is down to nothing. Tweeting allows the creation of quick community in a location.

Web 3.0 supports a new kind of nomadic life for the digital generation. Not only can small cities be created out of nothing in a day, but with tweeting, Facebook and other mobile technology this city can have a major global information infrastructure in a matter of hours. A communication infrastructure it might have taken generations to create just 20 years ago can simply form in empty space in a matter of minutes.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Korea tweeting

Korea is a major center of high technology and mobile tweeting, 60 years after a devastating war. The progress of Korea from destruction and military dictatorship to prosperity and representative government opens promise to Egypt and Tunisia over the next 20 years.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Senegal revolt without social networks

The idea that we are seeing a global revolt fueled by social networks is clearly too simplistic. We are seeing many areas with major protests clearly inspired by the Arab Jasmine revolt without any clear evidence of major use of Social Networks. We also see place with major social networks where political protests are not taking off, like London, Russia, and much of the US.

It is key to remember that Social Networks might be able to support political movements, but they are far from the main factor.

'Third Intifada' app, Apple and the reason to not build apps

Technology giant Apple has removed a pro-Palestinian mobile application from its roster of hosted programmes after Israel complained it incited users to violence.

The "Third Intifada" application essentially reproduced the content from a website of the same name - - which posts news and opinion articles about Israeli aggression and the Palestinian cause.

Apple removes 'Third Intifada' app - Americas - Al Jazeera English

Not to comment on the specific App in question, this case illustrates how critical it is for political groups to never write Apps for mobile platforms but HTML5 Mobile Web Sites. Given the advantages of HTML5 mobile web sites using mobile JQuery it is hard to see why so many people waste time on platform specific apps. Reasons to not develop an app are as follows:

  1. Apps fate are entirely in the hand of platform producers, mobile web sites can site on their own ISP and be seen by anyone with a web connection

  2. Well designed web sites can be seen by a wide range of platforms.

  3. Web sites can be shared without the need to download and install an app, making your site more viral. People can share you app with a URL or twitter post.

  4. Web sites can be upgraded at one location without needing to make users download a patch.

  5. Search engines can see what is inside your web site, not inside an app on users mobiles

  6. You can also pull a web site easily in case of some major problem (saying an order from a court to disable your app)

  7. You can more accurately track how your code is being used without having to install 'spying' functionality on the app

  8. Having device dependent code defeats many of the purposes for having the Internet in the first place.

Tracking level of tweeting for Pro-Mubbark protests

Tahrir Square

On June 24 there is a Pro-Mubarak rally planned for Cairo. This is all part of a growing trend for regimes and their supporters to adopt social networks. See The End of a Free Facebook, and Bahrain's Troll Army. You can track the intensity of Tweeting with the above tool. But the tool is unable to tell you how many people in the area are Pro-Mubarak or not. Our tool is designed to not spy on who people are or what they are talking about. Click on the High Density Tool to get a better sense of how compact the crowd is. A high High Density scores means a very concentrated small area.

Also its hard these days to really know if a level of tweeting is strong for an area. The Arab world is taking to tweeting very rapidly and we often see levels of tweeting just rise on their own in places like Egypt, so we have provided a baseline to compare the Tahrir site with near by in Cairo. Baseline other part of Cairo. By comparing the two you should be able to to see if the Tahrir area is unusually active for a Friday.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The end of Free Facebook

Now that regimes all over the world are aware of Social Media the balance of power has moved to their advantage. For a poorly policed site like Facebook the combination of Social Networks and a Terror State will quickly neutralize any democratic aspirations on the that Facebook might have fostered.

We saw it first in Bahrain this development in Bahrain. Bahrain was one of the first regimes in the Arab world to take its battle against its own people to Twitter and Facebook. With Gaddafi joining the war on Social Media, Facebook is no longer a safe place for Arab reformers. Gaddafi is adding a new twisted strategy in their war on Facebook. Gaddafi supporters are identifying Libyans, many who live in the west, on Facebook pages and threatening them.

Given Gaddafi's record of terror and killing, even beyond his own border these sites on Facebook are deeply disturbing. But even more disturbing is the face Facebook is not doing enough to police this area, not even taking down sites with considerable twitter attention like this one. Hundreds of people have complained about this page, maybe even more. But Facebook system of policing activity seems unable to respond to a site that contains:
  1. Creditable threats of violence,
  2. Harassment of specific people,
  3. Attacks on women and homophobic attacks,
  4. And even IP violation using photos without permission.

It is pretty clear that Facebook's entire history is a series of unintended accidents. Its success has been more a combination of random factors than any strength of the product. And its role in Arab Revolts was also clearly an unintended accident. Sadly Facebook own blindness may soon have very serious negative consequences.

Tesco in South Korea allows people to shop from Smartphones

Tesco South Korea is a very innovation solution to mcommerce that meets the demands of one of the hardest working time pressed people on Earth.

Wimbeldon tweeting levels

Wimbeldon tweeting levels. Looks like tennis fans are not the largest mobile tweeters in the world.

Making sense of the flood of Geo-tagged data

The web is a flood of geo-tagged data. Tools of the future will try to merge this data in to a meaningful larger picture. Photosynth from Microsoft tries to merge these images in to a larger 3D representation: is trying to aggregate larger corpus of data about a location than just images. tries to build a index for the amount of geo-tagged data has been crowd sourced for any given location

Unlike Photosynth can't tell you what a place looks like. But Photosynth can not tell you anything about the history or activity of an area. score for the Covent Garden Apple stores shows it is an area of intense commerce, history and activity.

Here is an image taken from the British Museum. And below the score for the same location.

Here you how the image aggregation and data analysis work together. You can tell from the statue that this location is a important cultural place, confirms and extends this knowledge showing you it is a place with many entries in Wikipedia, many venues in Foursquare and Yelp, and how many images are being uploaded.

Form the image you can guess that this is a high cultural area able to hold some of the greatest treasures in human history. Form the scores you can guess that any museum in the area would likely be first world.

The world of crowd sourced text and crowd sourced images reinforce each other, giving you a more complete idea of how the real world.

But Web data can often provide clues to a location the image can never hold. The above image by itself could be taken in any number of remote places. You can tell this is a peaceful spot, but how isolated is it.

Using the score for the location you can easily see that this is a park close to a settled area, there is still web 3.0 activity and a good deal of Yelp activity around it.

Is Facebook loosing to Twitter and YouTube?

"YouTube and Twitter were the fastest growing social networks in May, whilst market leader Facebook lost market share of visits for a third consecutive month. YouTube consolidated its position as the second biggest social network in the UK, accounting for 20.52% of all UK Internet visits to social networks during the month. Meanwhile Twitter had its biggest ever month of UK Internet visits, peaking on 21 May when the website accounted for 1 in every 184 UK Internet visits.

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"The growth of YouTube and Twitter during May had an impact on Facebook’s market share, which dropped to 53.61% of all visits to social networks for the month. Overall seven of the top 10 most popular social networks in the UK gained market share of visits in May, whilst Facebook, Moshi Monsters and MySpace all lost market share."

Experian Hitwise :: Experian Hitwise reveals latest UK Search Engine and Social Analysis

It seems like Facebook has gone from being the darling of Social Media to a target recently. Facebook may have done the one that that no social network can be forgiven for. This was not about privacy, not about selling details to big business, not about turning users in to governments. No, Facebook has stopped growing.

Okay with 600,000,000 users spending about 10% of their total time on the web on Facebook, there might not be a lot of room to grow. But given the history of the web there are a lot of reasons to anticipate Facebook is headed for, if not a fall a significant decline. They include:

  1. History: every social network before Facebook that had a major expansive growth has has a decline. If you are betting that Facebook will not decline in the near future you are betting that Facebook is utterly unique

  2. The fate of previous garden sites. Really Facebook is repackaging the same strategy AOL used 15 years ago. Give people a single location on the web where they have their friends and family on hand and are not exposed to the freaks and nerds that mix on a global scale. This strategy did not work for AOL and it is not clear why is should work now. It is interesting to note that people seem to be leaving Faecbook for the wild open spaces of YouTube and Twitter

  3. Don't dismiss privacy. Launching face recognition the way it did may have been a nudge to push significant numbers of fence sitting Facebook users towards Twitter and YouTube.

Based on our own experience Facebook is in a bit of trouble. Our experience is that the longer you use Facebook the more inclined you are to start using YouTube and Twitter more. We thing that Facebook is kind of a "gateway drug" to Twitter and YouTube usage. The more you use Facebook the more you become interested in the potential of social networks, potential that Facebook can't meet with its Social Graph lock in. We anticipate that people will start looking more and more to sites like Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube and potentially even Quora. Also we would not be surprised to see a trend of people re-engaging with sites like Wikipedia or blogging. In our experience time spent on Facebook or Twitter may instill a new appreciation for the community and purpose of Wikipedia, and Twitters ability to host links is a great aid to Bloggers.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Facebook Vs. Google

++ Click to Enlarge Image ++
Facebook Vs Google, Oh It’s On! [INFOGRAPHIC] |
Image Source:

Bahrain re-revolution to begin?

There is definitely some activity today in Bahrain. The level of geo-tagged tweeting coming from the island has risen today, Friday the 24th of June, just after mid-day prayers. Also the tweeter tag #Bahrain is on fire, more active at time than #Greece.

We have seen some tweets that Bahrain may experience new demonstrations soon. We are currently tracking Bahrain Capital closely.

We suspect from chats with people in Bahrain and news that most protesters have learned to use things like Tor. The experience of the crack down came as something of a shock to a nation were people were using Foursquare and Gowalla. Future protests will be more secretive and less relayed on social networks.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The failure of the wisdom of crowds

One of the key assumptions of Web 2.0 and emerging systems build upon assumptions of immersive wisdom of crowds is that a large body of amateurs will produce knowledge as good or better than a small group of experts. Rotten Tomatoes gives us an interesting case study of how flawed this idea can be.

Rotten Tomatoes gives both critic ranking and ranking by the audience. Very often the two go up and down together but sometimes you see some strange divergence which raises doubts about the value of the crowd to judge culture and art. For example above is the review of the brilliant Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams", a brilliant 3D documentary we saw several times this year. Caves is not a movie for children, or bored stoned teen agers, it is not a movie for people who want moveis with big explosions and sex scenes.

Professional film critics universally saw the genius of this film, giving it a critics rating of 100%. But the audience, though positive, is dragged down by the ratings of people who probably think moveis are better by having bigger explosions or more sex scenes. The audience rating is only 75%.

Now look at a childish silly movie like "V for Vendetta"

If you follow the audience ranking V is a far better movie than Cave, with a score of 88% over 75%. But if you look at the critics ranking it becomes a very different story, all critics give V a 73%, but looking at the top critics V gets a 46% with 7 rotten to 6 Fresh.

Its also interesting how much energy the critics give to the two movies. V has over 800,000 user reviews, Cave has about 5,300. Both films have 13 top critic reviews.

So not only do we see a huge difference between the professional view and audience view on these movies, but also a massive motivation between the two movies.

It is easy to dismiss the opinions of critics as elitist and trust in the opinions of masses. But the case of these two movies would make anyone with a deeper respect for film to wonder. Its just as easy to dismiss the crowd sourcing results as the ignorant speaking up on things they are not fit to judge. One might grant fans can vote for V because they like it, but the opinions of ordinary users is not so great for a great film live V. But Wikipedia raises doubts about this anti-crowd sourced view.

We think a few things should be kept in mind:
  • The audience rating tells you popularity among internet users, a critic review is something else looking more to cultural value. In this way the audience reviews do tell you something. V for Vendetta was a fairly popular film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams was more of an art house film. On the other hand if you had to make a time capsule and you had a government department to determine 10 films to put in to it the fan rankings of V would be neglected for the high respect the film has among critics. Crowds are good at telling you what they like and know. Always keep in mind the crowd that is crowd sourcing your data creation.
  • A voting a comment system is not a knowledge creation community. Unlike Wikipedia there is not community of discourse of self government evolving in Rotten Tomatoes. Its pretty passive actually, you log in with your Facebook account, you go to a film, you leave some stars and some comments and press submit. Wikipedia demands much much more for its contributors. Your input is likely to be challenged, altered, struggles emerge, compromises are reached, values are developed, people vote and hold roles, groups have to try and see each others point of view. Wikipedia has evolved a real community of knowledge creation, Rotten Tomatoes is an online poll.
For current sites thinking that adding Facebook to your site will make it a community, think again. Rotten Tomatoes is one of the most Facebook integrated major sites out there, but the users are still limited to nothing much more than creating comments. You don't have the level of participation and community formation you see in the Blogosphere or Wikipedia.

Facebook can't just add community to your site. One of the things to note about Facebook is that it asks that you know people before making connections in Facebook. This is a tacit brilliant admittance by Facebook that it can't provide community formation.

Libya Facebook page supporting violence against women

MISSON ACCOMPLISHED: After days of ranting and a report to the local FBI on our part Facebook has finally taken down the site that was identifying Libyan women and threatening them. The site, like a few others was developed by Gaddafi supporters. Gaddafi's thugs are taking their war of threats, murder and rape to Facebook.

If you believed that Facebook was helping Arab freedom movements this article will probably convince you otherwise.

The site names women who have stood up to the regime, and calls for them to be murdered

There is an arabic Facebook group called قائمة الخونة وعملاء الجرذان معا لفضحهم Which can be translated as a 'list exposing agents of the rats'. The list is a pro-Gaddafi group who find images of Libyan women, and one gay man we saw, who oppose who support democracy. It seems that Gaddafi's strategy of rape has been extended to Facebook.

Though the site is in Arabic its intentions are pretty obvious even without a Google Translate

This shows two very ugly things about social networks. First the ability to motivate crowds opens risks of cyber threats and potentially mob intimidation of people. But perhaps worse is that 48 hours ago we reported this site, which openly calls for violence to Facebook from the site. We also read about the site first on Twitter, among people trying to bring the site down.

Facebooks US contact phone number is 001 (650) 543 4800. They have a special line for law enforcement. If you can contact someone in law enforcement who suspects that their citizens are being targeted by this grew please have them contact the number above. Otherwise please follow this link and file a report. Use the report page link on the page to do so, Or you can contact the regional FBI at this email: .about this site. The FBI has acknowledged our complaint, but nothing from Facebook and, not surprisingly, nothing from our voice message.

Hopefully more exposure will bring the site down. We strongly believe in free speech, but free speech does not include threats directed at specific people, especially based on their gender or sexual orientation.

UPDATE: It is hard to express how pissed off we are getting at Facebook right now. We are in the third day running this story and we know thousands of people have seen it from our blog alone. We also know of people working with Libyan rebels trying to get the site taken down.

And yet the site, which violates US, EU and UN law and treaty remains. Frankly the content of this site is so disturbing we would imagine an ISP could potentially face arrests for hosting such a site. It identifies women who support democracy in Bahrain, many living in the west, and subjects them to abuse and threats. Given Gaddafi's use of rape as a weapon in his own country this is a very serious issue.

When people talk about Facebook having a role in recent protest movements in the Arab world correct them: people in the Arab world used Facebook without Facebook management knowing it. Facebook itself is morally neutral at best.

The use of Facebook as a tool to add opposition to regimes can not be imagined as somehow being a part of Facebook or its goals but as a strategic appropriation of the tool that Facebook's developers never could have imagined and would almost certainly not have liked.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The limits of social media in understanding protests

Above is the tweeting intensity for geo-tagged tweets coming from the protest site in Athens. Though the number rises and falls with major events on the ground, Athens generally has low levels of tweeting.

Compare this to a protest site in Barcelona Spain. Though the crowds in Athens are as bigger if not bigger than those in Spain the levels of tweeting in Spain are far higher than in Greece.

Levels of tweeting vary wildly between cultures. Greeks are less likely to tweet with mobile smartphones than Spanish. This can be in part accounted for by income. But also do not forget that Greeks could quickly start tweeting in the way Arab have since the Arab Awakening.

A very key thing to remember is that Greeks don't need to tweet. Why, well here are some key observations:

  • Protests in Greece are more organized, they involve more established groups within civil society like trade unions. They have the ability to organize and communicate that pre-date twitter.
  • Protest in Greece are more acknowledged by the local and global media. One interesting fact is that Greek protesters have been flashing green laser light at the press core. The explanation I hear is that the protesters are not happy with the way the events are covered in the Greek press. Outside of Greece the global media has paid huge amounts of attention to Greece. In Spain many of the acompada protesters felt they were being ignored. In Bahrain people felt as though the global media had ignored them. In these cases people who feel neglected by established media will turn to new media to try and get the message out. This neglect of protests is not a case in Greece, where every action of the Greek protests is carried live around the world.
  • Protests in Greece contain a larger band of age demographics. Unlike Spain the Greek protests have drawn people from almost every demographic in the country. And unlike Egypt Greece is a European country with an older population. Therefore a large part of the demonstrations are people are not digital natives.
  • Protests have often been violent. Though there are debates of who started the fighting Greece protests have seen more confrontation. Tweeting is generally more active in large peaceful protests.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Android Javascript Defect with orientationchange?

Working on a mobile web enabled site using JQuery Mobile, I've found a peculiar behavior in Android devices on all browsers: JQuery Mobile provides some extra events for mobile devices one of which is orientation change.

This event fires whenever the user changes the orientation of their device. The event that fires with it contains a number of additional fields, one of which is orientation which contains either the value 'portrait' or 'landscape' depending on which way the device has been turned.

You bind to the event using the following syntax:

$(window).bind("orientationchange", callback);

where 'callback' is your callback function. On iOS devices, evaluating e.orientation (the event field) returns 'landscape' when I turn the phone horizontally and 'portrait' when I turn it vertically. On Android devices, however, the event seems to fire as the orientation change takes place but before it has actually changed any properties of the window. As a result, you get the opposite values back. Likewise if you take a read on the screen size.

This provides an irritating issue for anyone trying to re-draw their screen on orientation change as any size parameters that need to be applied to page elements will go in based on the previous dimensions of the window rather than the ones you are going into.

The workaround I have found is to bind to window.resize instead. This has the advantage of firing at the same time on both platforms, but you lose the custom orientation field in the event and are forced to rely instead on old-fashioned reads of screen dimensions. In many cases this will need to be done regardless as elements are sized to fit new spaces, so it might not be such a great loss to lose the orientation. On the other hand, JQuery Mobile allows many elements to be re-styled easily using this attribute and without it we are stuck working through a lot more code.

Friday, 17 June 2011

@jeddahsunset my support for Women2dirve

Is RIM in Trouble and What Might that Mean for Microsoft?

RIM's new results are out. Short version: shipments up, profits down. On the latter, they are down even below a revised forecast. As this item points out,, RIM have reduced the amount of data they give out in their quarterly reports, which is never a good sign of corporate success.

If in fact RIM is in as deep trouble as some would suggest, what does it say for Microsoft's prospects that it has hitched its own long-floundering mobile operation to two falling stars in Nokia and RIM?

It is possible that THE big unanswered question of the current moment is whether the MS alliances with Nokia and RIM will be able to rescue them, whether they will be what MS needs to be rescued in a market of which it owns a mere 3%, or whether all three companies are already too far behind to recover.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Image from Greek Protest

Media culture provides more than just tools of communication and organization. Media populates the space of imagination, providing the ability for people to see the world in certain ways.

The movie V for Vendetta, a massive violence feast of a film, is a popular icon for many of the young protesters. Lets hope the movie was taken with a grain of salt. The film itself is a stark ugly affair.

Tweeting intensity at Santiago Chile

Santiago Chile was the site of recent student protests. It is always very interesting to see how much tweeting is coming from the developing world. The Internet is the ultimate leap frog technology. Mobile makes this process much faster. Now people all over the world are getting access to services like twitter using mobile phones.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Tracking tweeting intensity from Athens demo site

Real Time Tweeting Intensity, measured on a scale of 0 to 100.

Interesting to track the intensity of tweeting form the site of Athens major demonstration. Greeks are not the heavy tweeters that Spanish, English or even Egyptians are, but it is informative to see how tweeting rises and falls during a major confrontation.

On tweeter we have found a lot of live streams coming forward, so you can watch what is going on pretty directly.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sony Pictures and Nikon using Augmented Reality

Layar: Battle: Los Angeles

"These campaigns and others reflect the strenuous efforts being made by the likes of Layar and Metaio to persuade brands that AR should be on their marketing radars. For much of their histories, these startups have spent a lot of time evangelising the potential of AR, but brands are beginning to test the technology's promise."

Our take so far on Augmented Reality is the same as Virtual Reality. We believe that people feel there is enough reality out there already, what they craze is more engagement with the reality that exists.

We use Layar a great deal, but only in the map mode and not the AR mode. We have been finding Foursquare and Google Maps are cutting in to what Layar has to offer. We don't really see a market for heads up displays. Direction software has guided billions of trips without the need to project the directions on to the the windscreen. In fact such a feature would likely make driving more dangerous.

We not only fail to see a public desire for AR, but question if it is safe.

Italy: another revolt of the new media new left

"The still fledgling new left used Facebook, Twitter, emails and blogs. Their victory was not just a protest vote - it was a victory of new media over old, in a country where, as everyone knows, the old media are dominated by one man and his family."

BBC News - Italians find voice and punish Silvio Berlusconi

One of the key developments of the late 20th Century was the emergence of TV as the domiate cultural platform. TV required massive amounts momey for every minute of production. Therefore only two models of TV production could work: State of Big Business. And TV has been dominated by both models and only these two models. TV is always being produced by some large well funded group.

The Rolling Stones has a story on Fox News which illustrates how TV culture plays in to the hands of a small group of powerful players. Currently Fox's Cable news service has an insignificant news gathering service. It is talking heads reporting state lines little different than Syrian TV or North Korean TV. For decades the fact that these agencies were "free market" was taken as proof that they were "free", but the precise opposite has happened. Over the past 2 decades free market forces have made news in many western nations more and more like State controlled media in dictatorship: biased, fear mongering, uninformative and blind to alternative views. Pick up almost any newspaper in the UK and you will see what the free market of Thacher has done to the press.

Newspapers come over from the 19th Century but suffer from the same problem. It costs a great deal of money to print and circulate a paper based news paper every day.

With deregulation from 1980 to 2000 it became possible for single men to hold hundreds of papers and dozens of channels. In Italy this concentration of TV and newspapers in the hands of one man created the basis for a virtual dictatorship. For years Berlusconi was able count on his control of the media to get his message out.

Well that seems to have ended because of social media.

In the recently referendums Berlusconi has suffered a truly epic set of defeats. Berlusconi was opposed to four major referendum issues that required over 50% of the voters voting to be binding. Berlusconi's massive media engine was telling people not to vote, and if they voted to vote No.

Well almost 60% of the population did vote (pretty high under any conditions) and Berlusconi's side lost by a 95% yes vote. Generally 95% votes in any direction only go to dictators in stagged elections. In the history of modern democracy such a massive defeat is almost unheard of.

Certainly social media did not cause this. A combination of poor economics, repeated scandals, and exhaustion with the old man motivated people to vote. But social media gave local groups large enough voice to not only get their message, but to engage people and give them the confidence to go out there.

This is the biggest change of old media to big media. Watching TV is a passive activity. If we have an opinion we are reduced to ranting nut cases yelling at the TV. In new media there is a way to engage opinion. It might be the case that our opinions are lost in a flood of others, or drown out by a few massive sites, but the reality remains that the media itself is not telling us that we are powerless.

If we engage in Social Media, even if we are not heard, we hear ourselves. The media itself does not leave us voiceless the way TV does. Large companies like Yahoo and Faecbook may limit our access to the media, but users are proving very good at finding work arounds to even the worst online corporate censorship.

Using social media tells us again and again that we have a voice. Even if we are not heard we still exercise our productive and publishing of opinion, which builds self confidence which we believe is behind a great deal of what we are seeing.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Is ANONYMOUS on to something?

In an age of media like ours it becomes harder and harder to tell what forces are real and active and what is for show. Anonymous is probably the most confusing agent in the current environment.

There can be not question that a great deal of what is presenting itself as ANONYMOUS is in fact just kids making videos. There is also no doubt that some people calling themselves Anonymous have carried out real hacking attacks on targets.

But how much influence does Anonymous as group have on emerging protest movements calling for change? Is it even productive to think of Anonymous as a group or a collaborative identity?

Anonymous, in our opinion, is best imagined as a collective identity adopted by people who most likely are unaware of each other. But we find the style, images, and rhetoric of Anonymous as itself limited. The present form of the group took greatest shape in conflicts with Scientology. Making fun of Scientology demanded a silly style, one that ridiculed the silly authoritarian style of a isolated cult obsessed with Hollywood, secrecy and self importance.

But the current global movement seeking to use the Internet as a tool of liberation has grown beyond the mythology of V is for Vendetta. The mask, the suit without a head, the announcements with altered voices, and the dramatic declarations are suffering from their own silliness. The movements from Tahrir to Toronto need a more grown up and hopeful voice.

Perhaps future generations will remember Anonymous as a ugly silly system of icons that grew out of an ugly silly time in history. But if the current global effort to extend democracy and personal development has some hope it needs richer mythology than Anonymous can be mined for.

Good news for Samsung, okay news for Apple and really bad news for Nokia

A review of Nokia N8 against Samsung Android makes issues with Nokia best smartphone pretty clear.

"Samsung will become the world’s largest smartphone vendor in the third quarter of 2011, replacing beleaguered mobile manufacturer Nokia, which has held top position for the past fourteen years, according to Nomura.

"The financial institution believes that Apple will also overtake Nokia, beating the Finnish vendor into second place in the next quarter, after failing to hold back growth of the iOS and Android smartphone operating systems."

We have been beyond impressed by the outstanding excellence of Samsung's light weight next generation products. We use Samsung phones, tablets and super light laptops. Samsung is the most Web 3.0 company on the planet. Not only producing a large range of highly mobile devices, but also allowing user the selection of Windows or Android platforms.

As much as we like Apple's products the lock in to one companies platforms is a big minus. Also we simply like Androids open market, its performance, and its features better than iPhone.

As for Nokia what can we say. We love our Nokia N8s camera. In many ways the Nokia N8 is the best smartphone we have ever used. But until the company is producing smartphones with a real OS they are going to lose market share.

Samsung, along with HTC, is pursuing a brilliant open strategy of producing mobile devices and tablets on both Microsoft and Google platforms. Each has its unique strengths and the combined offering is better for consumers than a Apple only strategy.

The local, regional and global internet and social proest

The group Periodismo Humano (Human Journalism) is using Facebook to promote human rights actives in the Spanish speaking world. In a global world Facebook groups like this can unify activities and events that share a common language. For example the group is organizing protests in Spain, Mexico and South America. A recent major event us route of consolation in Mexico, where they travel to areas impacted by the drug war trying to strength civil society and improve social life for ordinary Mexicans.

Periodismo Humano demonstrates how new media is making movements more global. Spanish was perhaps the first global media. The language is spoken all over the Americas and in some parts of Africa. Spain is also a integral part of the EU, a place many Europeans would have links to.

The Plaza Del Sol was created as the center of time and measurements for a Spanish Empire. It should not come as surprising that many protesters are using it as a central point of a new kind of movement without central leaders. From Madrid a movement could spread through the Spanish speaking world, which includes the US, just as out of Tahrir Jasmine spread to the entire Arab world.

We tend to look at this things as three expanding sphere around an event:

1. The local. Those directly involved in a protest. In the case of Egypt the entire nation became three expanding rings.
2. The regional. Regional might be an area or nations near each other like the Middle East or the EU, or it might be a global constellation of nations that share bonds of language and culture. The larger Islamic world or the Spanish speaking world. Spain is interesting as it is a key part of both the EU and the Spanish speaking world.
3. The fully global. Translated in to "twitter English" or "twenglish" lessons learned form events in Spain, Madison or Tahrir are shared on a global scale.

These three sphere have their limitations as well as straights.

The local is the most engaged sphere were the heavy work is done. The local uses the Internet to organize and communicate for direct action in an agile way that tries to get around censorship. The local is covered mostly with Social Networking tools like Twitter and Facebook. The social network is key in this media.

The regional is the main academic sphere where ideas are shared and expanded via bloggers and youTube videos. The regional takes advantage of the Internets ability to self publish in order to share and gather ideas between different locations. For example the Arab uprisings are communicating with each other via YouTubes, were all people share the Arabic language.

The global is faced with the difficulty of language. English serves as a kind of international standard, but a large part of the local and regional do not speak English and the main activity is not happening in English speaking nations. The US has seen Union protests and the UK has the uncut movement and both have the feminist slutwalks, but these are relatively small compared to the camping movement in Spain or the Arab Awakening. But they are all join in a sphere of motivation. They all share images. At this level youTube videos without extensive text (scenes of protest or state brutality) or images on sharing sites like TwitPic become most significant. Images go beyond limits of language and culture to build a global motivational layer.

Pieces of information are constantly moving up and down the layers. Lessons learned at a protest in Bahrain may rises up to Arab sites, where they may be translated in to Spanish. These lesson may become parts of Spanish speaking blogs where they may help protesters in specific sites. These may produce feedback. The process is constantly moving information around as it forms a global identity that we see emerging out of this.

Do not thing that the language barriers between local events makes the global sphere superficial or even non-existent. What images can do is ground a sense of identity. Identity formation is a key part of this event. From Spanish young people taking on the role of indolent and unemployed to women reclaiming the term slut this years protest see identity being reformed and reworked on all three levels.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Slutwalk crowd in London

Slutwalk in London. A charged crowd in a global event which was only a canadian facebook group a few months

Just over 2 months ago this was a protest in Canada. Spread by a combination of media and social networks the event has become global.

At 1:30 PM local time on April 3, 2o11 Toronto had the first slut walk. Today they are being held every week end in cities around the world. The walk in London was estimated by the organizers to have drawn 3,000 people. Roughly the same number as the Toronto event two months ago.

A slut walk is even planned for Deli later this summer. This would mean that the protests would have gone global in three months with tens if not hundreds of thousands or participants. This kind of fast grass roots protests would not have been possible 5 months ago.

London slut walk goes viral

Despite less then impressive organization the Facebook organized slutwalk was a huge success with 3,000 mostly young women marching through the capital to reclaim the word "slut". Social Media events go viral for a solid reason and this young woman explains what motivated her to participate in the Slut Walk event.

Its not only impressive that a new kind of feminism is emerging through global social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, but the speed at which it is. In the 1990s the term "Queer" was taken over by the gay and lesbian community. But the process of retaking the term Queer took years. Today the word slut is being rapidly reworked in a series of online social events.

The process of reclaiming words like "queer", "nigger", or "chav" is not new. But potentially we are seeing a change in two major things:

  • Language is being re-appropriated by a leaderless movement with little involvement of established media. (This is not entirely true as the Slut Walks do get a lot of media attention, but the media is responding and not leading on this one)
  • Language is being re-appropriated much more quickly. Since 2011 the meaning of words like indolent, intern, slut and Arab have been transformed radically. In online social media culture forms change hands much faster than could be done in a world of corporate owned media.