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“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ― William Morris

Statistics on BBC iPlayer Usage

Posted: November 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Internet Life, Social Media, Technology | Tags: , , | No Comments »

CXO magazine this month has an interview with John Linwood, CTO at the BBC, about the amazing success of the iPlayer, the BBC’s on-demand video service. You can only read the interview in their print magazine at present, however they do give us a great infographic showing iPlayer usage patterns.

The iPlayer has demonstrated the desire of people across the UK to access on demand content, and has simultaneously raised the ire of broadband providers who’ve seen download levels rocket. The iPlayer infrastructure vends 12.5Gb/second of pre-processed video to the many different players it supports – from mobile phones, through computers to the mainstream satellite providers who then help distribute the data themselves. Arguably the BBC is in a unique position around the world, being funded by public money which means that the content is effectively ‘owned’ by the British public already. Whatever the reason though, you can’t demand the success of the venture from a technology perspective.

BBC iPlayer Stats

[From The Next Web]


Social Relevancy – The Future of Contextual Search?

Posted: July 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

ReadWriteWeb has a good article on the upcoming battle for dominance in search between Google and social upstarts Facebook. For most of us Google’s position as the ‘go to’ site on the web for searching is an ongoing certainty, we even use the phrase ‘to Google’ to indicate that we’re doing a search. However there are two fronts on which industry commentators are concerned that the search giant’s dominance may start to be challenged – the first is real time search, and the second is social relevancy.

Twitter is the golden child of real-time search at the moment, with the bite-sized information posting rapidly lending itself to a global network of immediacy (and the usual increases in spam). Something posted on Twitter in the last few minutes is generally more relevant to a time based event than anything posted elsewhere on the web in the past, or in the next hour. Facebook has attempted to challenge Twitter’s fast rising star with it’s own interface re-tooling to use status updates in the same way, but status is ultimately a personal statement, whereas Twitter has left it very much to the user to decide what their Tweets are about. This search paradigm shift is ongoing, and will continue for a while.

Social relevancy is a much more concerning attack for Google. The basic principle is that when you want information you would normally trust your friends and contacts more than a random stranger on the web. Trust is a critical web commodity, one that is slow to lend and hard to build. Want to know the cool places to go out in your neighbourhood? Then you ask your friends and peers. Want to know how stars are formed? You ask Google. ReadWriteWeb express this as:

^
|
| Increasing
| Relevancy
|

Friends and Following
Taste Neighbours
Friends of Friends
Influencers
The Crowd (Aggregate)

Google sits firmly at the bottom of this hierarchy – processing the crowd and its network of links with complex rules to provide us with quick and (generall) accurate responses. Facebook and other social networks, from the first days of Six Degrees, sit with the top two positions. This positions are hard for Google to gain a foothold in as the time and effort necessary to get people on-board and to build up an accurate social graph are large, and although Google has the resources the question remains as to whether Google’s brand perception amongst people is sufficient to create a Facebook ‘killer’.

That’s not to mean Google isn’t trying to gain footholds into this market. They’ve supported open standards for creating semantic links describing relationships. They’ve bought out social networks of their own. They’ve even announced an advanced, in-browser UI (Google Wave) that lets you combine all your services in one place in real-time. Meanwhile Facebook still prevents Google and other search engines from spidering Facebook’s information and hence ascertaining a social graph of their own. Facebook want to own this space and won’t broker any deals that don’t help them reach this goal.

This is an interesting transition and it’s still hard to say who will win. Google ousted the search incumbents under 10 years ago, and there’s nothing to stop them being ousted in turn. Interesting times lie ahead for search and for us in the world of networked services.


The Pirate’s Dilemma: To Compete, or Not To Compete

Posted: April 16th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Matt Mason, author of The Pirate’s Dilemma, gave a great talk recently at the Medeci conference. He covers a lot of the ground from his book here, with great anecdotes about how piracy affects our society, and consequently how we do business. His summary: sometimes you should sue pirates, if they’re not adding value to society, but in many cases you shouldn’t – in the cases where popular opinion is generally in favor of that brand of piracy. For example with music downloading, people know it’s wrong, but pirates still buy music from download sources such as iTunes – however noone thinks it’s right that a big music company sues a young music fan for downloading. To paraphrase Mason, “If suing your customers is your business, then you are lawyers and no longer in the music industry”.

Mason’s solution is simple, if the piracy you face is something that society wants (eg, quick music downloads for cheaper than CD) then you should give it to them – otherwise someone else will. There are three steps to this; 1) watch the pirates – let them do their stuff, remixing and re-packaging your stuff. Good piracy a) adds value to the original, b) creates innovation and, perversely, c) creates demand for new things based around your brand. 2) You have to question what your real business is… for example iTunes now sells convenience, rather than music – you could get the music for free online but it’s a bit of a hassle, iTunes is familiar, quick and comfortable to use. So sell a different experience, Hollywood had it’s biggest summer ever – $4 billion – so piracy can’t be hurting them that much. 3) Finally, the hardest step – copy the pirates to beat them, because if you don’t – your competitors will.

All good advice, with great anecdotes. You can watch Mason’s entire talk here.


Be Intelligent… Collectively

Posted: August 16th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , | No Comments »

O’Reilly have just released a new book on harnessing the collective intelligence of the Web 2.0 masses. Founder Tim O’Reilly is very excited about this book, and though you might think he’s biased he’s not one to shout about every single book they release as that would probably fill every day of his life. If anyone has read it let me know if it’s as good as it sounds.


Through a (Wiki)Scanner Darkly

Posted: August 16th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Social Media | Tags: | No Comments »

A recent study of IP addresses of people who edited wikipedia entries seems to indicate the CIA, Democratic Party and even the Vatican have made edits. Obviously since this survey is only based on IP address there is a high potential for fraud, but it’s interesting that people are starting to look at this open information in this way. There are already a slew of services for public figures and corporations to review their web presence, but I’d expect to see more of these ‘open source’ efforts allowing anyone to see who’s changing what.