From the category archives:

Social Software Social Networks

Way to go Sify!

June 9, 2007

Refuses to block Orkut under political pressure!

A picture named no.jpg

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I got My Facebook!

June 9, 2007

The New York Times had similar thoughts. Check out this really neat article there on how a daughter is pissed off because her mum gets a Facebook!

“But after receiving a follow-up threat from my daughter (“unfriend
paige right now. im serious. i dont care if they request you. say no. i
will be soo mad if you dont unfriend paige right now. actually”), I
started worrying that allowing parents in would backfire on Facebook.”

While I wonder about how the younger generation will react as more of us ‘oldies’ go in there, I must say I am really having a blast at facebook. After a long time, a social networking site has really drawn me in. Along with a few others, I thought I had reached the limit way back in 2003, when there was this mad scramble to invite all your friends to every new social networking site that came about. This time, when I got my own Facebook, I find myself behaving differently. I find I am not inviting all my friends in there, or sending out one of those blanket join me at facebook sort of message to everyone. I find a lot of my family, old and young, in India and abroad, are in there and we’re having fun peeking into each others’ lives and reconnecting in ways we haven’t done via email or even chat. Many of my close blogging buddies are in there too – and I am enjoying learning about so many new facets of their lives with applications like Trip,, Ask a question, books, movies, photos etc.

Facebook also lets me feel I own my own page there – something Ryze lost a long while ago with its new UI. Stuart had expressed this feeling so eloquently then:


no sense of art in a place where artisans play
no sense of personality in a realm of personalities.
no sense of canvas when everyone paints
no sense of action when everyone chatters
no sense of our place just structured space.”

“The new stuff? Says RYZE first — ME
second. What was the brief? Oh probably make the community more
professional looking. You have any recommendations? Is there a
strategy? Is there a business model? Ryze could have had it all.”

Facebook today offers me that sense of art where artisans play, that sense of personality, that canvas for me and my friends to colour on, that sense of my space (pun intended!). And its all happening in my time at ease, without that pressure to be really active on it that there was while many of us were indulging in some Serious Play at other networks.

Tags: Facebook, social networking, social networks, social media

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Google has my past – and my future

June 4, 2007

Google is not merely moving towards “owning” the internet, its also beginning to “own” me.I had a friend over this weekend, and I was setting up a blog for her on Blogger. I had to sign out of my Blogger account to set her up. During the process, I wanted to check my mail, and clicked on my Gmail tab in my browser – and I was shocked to see that it opened up her Gmail account instead. Should have expected it – its logical – but it disturbed me. It’s convenient, it’s quick – but I want the controls and the ability to decide which ones I want auto signins for and which ones not.

Say, if I have Google Reader running – and I have signed out of Gmail — if someone else tries to log into their Gmail account – they can read my mail. Or if they want to check their scraps on Orkut – they get to see mine instead. Google Maps can show pictures of your front door and look through your window
– very cool – yes – but it makes me uncomfortable too. Although I need
not worry as I live in a city where its going to be very difficult to
get everything ‘on a map’ as there is so much chaos in the planning.

They have my presence info (limited tho) through Gmail
and Gtalk, they have my social network on Orkut, they dish up ads in my Gmail which make me feel a little
uneasy about privacy. I have been doing many studies recently with youth, and when I ask them how they use the internet – the response is Googling, Orkutting (note – not search and social networking) and chatting – Gtalk hasn’t yet managed to become a verb!

In countries like India however, where for the large part, computers are shared at work and home – this could become a problem. Not everyone has the know-how or the presence of mind to set up different logins and user accounts at boot up.

Look at Google’s acquisition over the years – they are buying up the best really. And our lives are enriched and simpler as a result. I love using many of these and it makes my life better. But yesterday’s experience with setting up my friend’s blog got me thinking in the longer term – and I kept pondering over – what cost?

Eric Schmidt , Google’s CEO was quoted in FT. Do I really want my computer to tell me what I should do tomorrow, or what job I should take?

Asked how Google might look in five years’ time, Mr Schmidt said: “We
are very early in the total information we have within Google. The
algorithms will get better and we will get better at personalisation.
The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such
as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?'”

See this video, although a little dated – it looks forward to a Google world in 2014 – EPIC. Robin Good has a transcript:

“On Sunday, March 9 2014, Googlezon unleashes EPIC.

Welcome to our world.

The Evolving Personalized Information Construct’ is the
system by which our sprawling, chaotic mediascape is filtered, ordered
and delivered. Everyone contributes now – from blog entries, to
phone-cam images, to video reports, to full investigations. Many people
get paid too – a tiny cut of Googlezon’s immense advertising revenue,
proportional to the popularity of their contributions.

EPIC produces a custom contents package for each user, using his choices, his consumption habits, his interests, his demographics, his social network – to shape the product. A new generation of freelance editors has sprung up, people who sell their ability to connect, filter and prioritize the contents of EPIC.

We all subscribe to many Editors; EPIC allows us to mix and match
their choices however we like. At its best, edited for the savviest
readers, EPIC is a summary of the world – deeper, broader and more
nuanced than anything ever available before.”

With the recent acquisition of Feedburner, Google just bought over access to not just us, but our readers as well. They even acquire the internet in year 2017!!

Google has my past, and it’s rapidly ‘taking over’ my future. My actions today, in the present, are building the tracks for that future. A dystopian Brave New World, or Utopia?

Should I really care? Does it bother you at all?

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What’s the future for youth on Facebook?

May 30, 2007

So everyone is talking of Facebook.  My Twitter is abuzz with it. My aggregator is bursting with blog posts around it.    The social media blogworld is freaking out in it.  Even my 79 year old aunt who sent me an add as friend invite!  Reminds me of the old days when we all moved from one social networking site to another.  This one’s different of course – its more than small pieces loosely joined and the potential is immense with the opening up of their platform.  Widgets and plugins around VOIP, presence, twitter, music, video being created with a frenzy. A great platform play.  I like this play – although I haven’t done much with it yet.

Still, I can’t help wondering, with all the attention it’s getting and with this invasion of geeks, social media analysts and older folk like me, how the youth on Facebook are going to react!   Ironically, they are the ‘older’ Facebook users – we are the newbies. Will they see us as an intrusion?  Will they build their own walls now that it’s less of a gated community?  What might those walls be? Will they revolt, as they did last September when they felt their privacy was compromised by the addition of new features? Their definitions of what’s public and what’s private is different from ours.  Will the more geeky among them, who would like to build on the platform read the fine print and get put off?  Will the opportunity for marketing and advertising that it’s going to encourage put them off? Or will they embrace this change and build their own worlds on the platform? Will there be a massive shift from Orkut and MySpace into Facebook?

Hmmmm.  Interesting to see how this one progresses.

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On CNN-IBN : Orkut community helps collect aid

May 4, 2007

I’m going live on CNN-IBN in half an hour, at 8.30 pm.  They’re doing a show on how a community on Orkut is helping in collecting aid for an ailing lyricist.  They’ve asked me to comment on the positive aspects of social networking.  I hope we don’t go thru the usual pros and cons of social networks, an angle most channels approach the issue from.

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Twitter vs Jaiku Metaphors

May 2, 2007

I’ve been using Twitter a lot again recently. And yesterday, when Jace wondered

“Twitter. Jaiku. Twitter. Jaiku. What to use?” I found myself thinking about why I tend to be in Twitter more than Jaiku. I know Jaiku is better ‘loaded’ but I feel I lose the real flow in conversation there as the updates are all jumbled up with updates from blogs, flickr accounts, bookmarks and newsreaders. I feel comfort with Twitter that I don’t with Jaiku. Difficult to express why – just that there is comfort in its simplicity. A cappella versus symphony. Sandwich and coffee versus a full-course meal (how often do we have the latter!). Dal-chawal versus biryani.

What metaphors would you use for comparing your Twitter and Jaiku experiences?

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Special on Youth and the Internet

April 27, 2007

Here’s an excerpt from an article I did for Tehelka’s special on youth and the internet, on much urging from Shivam, who put an apt title to it – The Mirror of Change – This is Who We are Becoming.

“For those completely
immersed in virtual worlds such as Second Life, the seduction of intimacy
combined with anonymity does not mean they do not share the joys and
sorrows of their real worlds. My bet is that they do. “Pet”,
a very close friend and a colleague who worked with a team of online
volunteers when the tsunami struck in December 2004, got me looking
at Second Life with new eyes. He had been feeling trapped in his body
for a long time, and when he got onto Second Life, it helped him become
more comfortable with his feelings that he was a woman trapped in a
man’s body. The beauty is that Second Life was a tool for “Pet”to figure out who she really is and how to work it out for real. Today,
she has friends not only in Second Life, but also in her physical world
with whom she can be herself. “Pet” has shared so much of
her period of transition and angst with me, that I feel I know her intimately.
Being a geek, she also helps me with my websites. I trust her as she
trusts me. I know she is very real – there is nothing ‘virtual’
about her, even though I have never met her.

While I may never
have seen or met “Pet”, there is depth in our friendship,
and solidity. I know, for some people, that is hard to accept. I’m
often asked questions like, how can you feel connected to someone you’ve
never met? How can you trust someone you’ve never seen? These
concerns are understandable given the newness of this medium and the
flow that determines these sorts of relationships. Oh there are dangers
too – the pretence borne out of anonymity, the addictions, the
spam and scams, the paedophiles, the pornography. And still, when I
meet up with blog buddies all over the world, how can I explain the
amazing level of comfort I feel!

I single out blogs
here as throwing up a whole different social system than do virtual
worlds and social networking sites. Detractors say, online you can be
whoever you want to be and nobody cares. That may be correct, yet, if
you try and fake things too hard, you most always are found out, and
can be verbally beaten. My belief is that people tend to act more like
themselves online than they like to admit. It is much more difficult
to hide away who you are when you are blogging. I’ve found myself
revealing things on my blog about myself that I would find difficult
to talk about face-to-face. Ugly things too.
A picture named tehel.jpg

And yet, I found
myself trusting myself as I began trusting people I met through this
medium. There is a fine line between the public, private and secret
self, and the boundaries blur sometimes. At others there is a conscious
effort to keep them apart. In a physical world, our lives are compartmentalized,
you have different sets of friends for different needs, and meet in
different physical spaces as a result. My blog is one space where
I connect with friends, potential clients, strangers, acquaintances,
even spammers and trolls. It is entirely up to me what I want to share
of me and when, at my blog. And, I have found, the more I share,
the more others do. It’s just an extension of basic human needs
for connection and community.”

This issue is carrying a special on youth and the internet. I see some bloggers I know like Dilip, Rashmi, Neha, Patrix and Shivam of course, who have made some neat contributions there – and as I glanced through the articles, I felt Shivam’s done a good job of getting a mix that does not perpetuate stereotypes the media usually portrays netizens to be.

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Map Your Name on mapmyname

April 27, 2007

MapMyName is a project started by a couple of students, who are aiming to assess how many people use the internet all over the world. They hope to achieve this within a month by spreading the mapmyname meme. Brave attempt!!

Currently, I’m the only user from Mumbai listed on there – and I think the only one from India too.

Spread the word by clicking here to map your name! Link via Euan who tweeted about it on Twitter.

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Paper Works

April 25, 2007

Sachi and Lee LeFever are doing a series of “paperworks” educational videos. From Lee’s email:

“In my opinion,
RSS has been too geeky for too long. I have friends who use the web as much as I do and have no clue about RSS. It’s a minor travesty. To help remedy this situation, Sachi and I created a video called “RSS in Plain English” that is
aimed at turning-on the non-geeks of the world. It’s in a format we
call “paperwork” – I think you’ll see what that means. We’re just
getting started and hoping that you can help spread the word (it just
went live couple of hours ago). Obviously, there is room for
improvement – any feedback is welcome. We’re planning to do more
paperwork videos as part of The Common Craft Show.”

And it is! Even my mum would get it. Watch it here.

I’d love to see
something similar on ROI of blogging – its a concept I find most
difficult to communicate to organizations and I do believe a Paperworks
demo will be great!

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Industry proclaims Social Media is not a fad

April 16, 2007

According to a report by Accenture, the media and entertainment industry feels user-generated content is the top threat to their businesses:

“NEW YORK; April 16, 2007 -Media and
entertainment executives see the growing ability and eagerness of
individuals to create their own content as one of the biggest threats
to their business, according to results of a survey released today by
Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

its annual survey of senior executives in the media and entertainment
industry, Accenture examined the growth strategies of companies across
the landscape of advertising, film, music, publishing, radio, the
Internet, videogames and television.

than half (57 percent) of the respondents identified the rapid growth
of user-generated content – which includes amateur digital videos,
podcasts, mobile phone photography, wikis and social-media blogs — as
one of the top three challenges they face today. In addition, more
than two-thirds (70 percent) of respondents said they believe that
social media, one of the largest segments of user-generated content,
will continue to grow, compared with only 3 percent of respondents who
said they view social media as a fad.

is just the beginning for a rapidly changing landscape where the media
content environment grows more fractious and the user gains more
control and power,” said Gavin Mann, digital media lead for Accenture’s
Media & Entertainment practice. “Traditional,
established content providers will have to adapt and develop new
business and monetization models in order to keep revenue streams
flowing. The key to success will be identifying new forms of content that can complement their traditional strengths.”

new landscape offers opportunities as well as challenges, according to
the study, as two-thirds (68 percent) of the respondents said they
believe that within three years their businesses will be making money
on user-generated content. Sixty-two percent said they believe their
companies will make money through advertising and sponsorships of
social media. Other sources of profits cited were subscriptions (21
percent) and pay-per-play offerings (18 percent). However, a quarter
(24 percent) of respondents said they do not yet know how their
businesses will profit from user-generated content.

study included interviews with industry giants like Roger Faxon, chief
executive of EMI Music Publishing; Leslie Moonves, chief executive of
CBS; Doug Neil, senior vice president of digital marketing for
Universal Studios; and Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP Group

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Bloggers Code of Conduct – Please NO!

April 1, 2007

Heh .. Johnnie .. I’m with you in feeling ranty! As a response to this, a stopcyberbullying community is nice, comments policies and guidelines are ok if you believe you need them, but a Bloggers Code of Conduct???

What will it achieve – perhaps nothing. What will you do if someone violates the bloggers code of conduct
– delete their comments, report them – that’s something you can do
without such a formal code isn’t it? Who will enforce this Code of
Conduct across blogs? Will bloggers that do not share this ‘code of
conduct’ be
ostracized? Will not this ‘moral’ responsibility grow to have legal
Will spammers and trolls and death threat issuers from non-US countries
be prosecuted? Will you be able to stop them? Will you only encourage
people to look for different and more sophisticated ways of piling on
their vile – it
is after all a human condition, and not a blog condition.

It seems to me, culturally, it is a very North-American thing to think up.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love some aspects of North America and
have met some of the finest folks there – but this operating out of ‘fear’
one aspect I have written about earlier, that I find goes beyond
protection. Perhaps it’s the phrasing of it that gets to me – ‘Code of
Conduct’ implies rules and regulations, implicit in this is that there
is only one way ahead. I don’t like that.
It will make us guard our words. It will give credence
to the power games played out in the blogworld by providing yet another
weapon to divide those who have it and those who don’t. It will foster
a culture of fear. In the worst case, it will breed litigation,
insurance, liability.

formalize something we’re doing anyways – if you’re proud of your space
(your blog in this case) you’ll protect it the way you feel best.
Banning anonymous comments for instance, is a personal choice – in my
case, I have deleted comments that are vulgar, lewd and allude to
physical threats. The others, I prefer to debate with. If others do not
wish to, ignore them or take the ‘fight’ to your space, or theirs.
There is a strong self-regulating aspect to this medium, and the recent
events are proof, with different angles and facets to the story emerging.

biggest fear in having a ‘formal’ code of conduct is it will take some
of the ‘human’ out of the blog. It will raise entry barriers to
participate in blog conversations, where few exist. It may even force
more bloggers to shut down all conversations in comments, because a few
are violating their freedom to comment. It will defeat the
self-regulatory and self-correcting nature of this medium. One of the
delights of blogging is it so reflects human behaviour – it gives us
the space to share freely our humility, our pride and our
infallibilities, our opinions and counterpoints, our failures and
successes, our rituals and dreams, our conflicts and resolutions. It
lets us debate and converse with others freely and intuitively. It may
reflect our professional views, but it is as far from
‘corporatization’ as any medium is today. Will not shared standards
and practice bring about ‘corporatization’ in some form or other?

There’s my long rant! Unlike Johnnie’s pithy post.


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