Friday, November 09, 2007
Latest product to roll out of my intray is called Radiowaves (the world's listening) a "safe" blogging/podding/vidcast service for schools and students. Ministry of Justice approved, and currently being rolled out across the nation. Would it be a better solution for me than my current grab-bag of free services?
Having noticed the £42/fee per school and the prominent get-a-quote signs everywhere I get the dintinct impression that this is something designed to be used across a school network. A quick visit it "how it works" confirms this:
Safety and Control
You can see all students work and control what they put live to the public.
Student Web Pages
Each student has their own web page to showcase their work and for you to easily track progress
... so it's an educational tool, and one which assumes that looking at whatever's blogged is something that will be done as a matter of course, for monitoring and assessment purposes (in addition to moderation). Nice idea, not for me.
Of more general interest is sister-site numu, where students post their work in a "safe" (i.e., no comments) space. My hand hovers over play, but I'm not alone in the office today, and it's only very tangetially of relevance. I can see how it would be useful, though: myspace with most of the social function sawn off, to keep the young people concentrated on the music.
It's harder to decide what to saw off when the bulk of what you're doing is supporting independent development of socialisation, useful information sharing, peer support and postitive relationships among young people.
Anyway, radiowaves: shelved for now.
Monday, June 18, 2007
And then comes the day when you want to post an innocent little mp3 and though your Livejournal has been hovering on the edge of being able to do this for the last two years, it's clearly still not encouraging the practice, and though your various bucketing sites will handle any amount of video, audio is not within their remit. No, madam -- unless you're prepared to site through the nonsensical rigmarole of pretending to be a band, if you want to post audio, on your own hosting service be it.
Fortunately for everyone, I managed to find PodBean before I had to resort to registering myspace/djcleanskiesandthebabygoslings. It seems to work; it also seems to have no (free) competitors. It's not especially social, though; I can join groups or hit up channels, but I can't make contacts. It's a bit more like Blogger in that aspect -- more a publication channel than a social networking tool.
Fortunately it integrates quite nicely with your other blogs, providing them with a neat little embedded audio player:
... which could do with a little finessing (a link to the blog entry it's from, perhaps?) but as long as it's working, I'm happy.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
For work, the two community sites identified as the most flexible, reliable and popular among the target age group (13-19) were Bebo and Myspace.
See you in the comments threads
Thursday, May 31, 2007
But before we go, a couple more places to shove in, last-minute:
Upcoming.org, which enjoyed popularity with a few of my friends a while ago, has now become Upcoming.yahoo.com, although I couldn't find it from the rest of My Yahoo. Maybe that's yet to come. I easily found out a whole bunch of neat things I'm doing or might want to do and it's easily nicer than Facebook's event organiser. It's not very social, though, (although that may be me feeling less social after a solid fortnight of this) and I'd hesitate to promote it to young people because it's a locator -- primarily for the events, but it also works on the individuals.
Threadless, currently crashing my browser, is a design networking place where I'm a long-term lurker, first time purchaser. Or would be, if the t-shirts had actually turned up, which they haven't ... and Deviant Art is a big online art community which I know that some of my friends use. But I'm out of time and it's not really my scene (images sorted by popular should explain).
And then there are the communities for people into toys, comics, David Bowie, and oh it just goes on and on, stretching out forever. There's no sense I could ever sign up to everything I'm interested in, though I have no doubt I'd find interesting people in all these places.
Last but not least -- let's mention blogger. I've had this blog for a few years now, and subscribe to a few friends blogs via a feed aggregator, but I've never once used it to find people, ever. Blogger isn't about other people. It's about you.
Signing off and socially overcommitted,
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Only two laughed and said they didn't live anywhere on the Internet, and, on further questioning, one of them turned out to be trying to hide his blog. A couple were on one-note joke sites like sloganizer -- which they had great fun typing my name into. Workshop leader, please leave your dignity at the door. The blogspot I mentioned, a couple of myspacers who didn't want to show off their profiles and a couple of bebo babies who did, a home-made homepage, a favourite shopping site and Tagged, the mere mention of which made the rest of the room groan.
My idea was that we'd look at the sites and assess what made them appeal to the young people, but my borrowed office environment had blocked all non-work-related sites and done their damnedest to disable the browser on the sawn-off laptop they grudgingly provided (to a background mumble which augered ill for whoever had told us having an internet connection in a meeting room would be "no problem"). While the adults are sharing site-blocking funnies (did you hear the one about the legal department having all emails about sexual harassment blocked?) the young people are on the laptop, finding a proxy site that isn't blocked. It takes them less than 30s.
Of course, the proxy site is teeming with nasty adverts and toxic pop-ups but the young people don't give it a second glance. They're here to check their messages, see if anyone has left them "love" (a Bebo thing) and count their myspace friends. Then they remember that they're not supposed to be showing us their myspace pages and we end up on mine instead. "Only 19 friends in two years? That's rubbish, that is."
As the borrowed laptop disappears under a torrent of spyware (I try to fix it, but discover I don't even have enough privileges to bookmark pages) and I haul the last young person off its twitching corpse, I feel weirdly gratified. They really are all online, just like the future promised. They're keeping in touch with friends in different towns, swapping music recommendations and providing each other with emotional support. This is madness!
.. and this is Tagged, the only unfamiliar name to come up all day. It's another video posting site, and I suspect its popularity with the group may be to do with none of the blocking programs knowing about it. Another I'm not going to join, I fear -- but then, I don't spend my life in a world where Youtube is eternally locked behind a wall of nannyware.
Californians may wish to know that Tagged is currently looking for a Director of Advertising Sales, an Online Sales Ad Executive, a Senior Software Developer and a Software Developer - Release Manager, and that if you join their team, you can expect a competitive salary, performance bonuses, generous pre-IPO stock options, full health benefits, 401(K) plan, and perks like a well-stocked kitchen, gym membership, monthly massages and various offsite activities.
I get a cheese and pickle sandwich and some terrifying jelly sweets, shuffle together my research and the new design notes, and hop the bus home. They want the site to look tasteful.
Truly, times have changed.
Verdict: I'm going to post a cat video because I can.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Two, if you count myspace. I suppose that I should. But actually, I'm hitting LastFM today. A site so oldschool, you have to download software for full functionality. No hitches with that, though, so all's good. I figure out scrobbling, build a profile, and set up a suitable soundtrack to go looking for people I already know by. Here, though, is where I hit a snag. It defaults to stealing my address book and spamming all my friends with an "invite". Nah, I don't think so. So I mince through my own address book and pick out the LastFM users by hand, and it's tricky enough that they clearly just want me to give up and just do the spam thing. I also skip over the people who I've drifted out of touch with, those whose email addresses don't instantly recall their name and those who are just a bit too famous. Nah, I'm not going to meet anyone here.
That said, though, it does the music stuff really sweetly. Right now it's pissing down with rain, I'm feeling kind of grim and playing artists similar to Radiohead. I've already had to express my love for tracks twice.
Verdict : It's about the music, not the socialising. Which is fine.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
At the time there was crude interactivity via guest books (remember those?) but I turned all that shit off. Even though a trickle of people have come to me from that site over the years (including being BoingBoinged over some mildly rude toy photos --proof that you never can tell what other people will find interesting) it wasn't a place for interaction or social aggregation. It was about display.
But given as how I've been blasted with various messages about how Yahoo is "embracing the web 2.0 concept" every time I've tried to log in to my email during the last quarter (and no, I still haven't managed to upgrade to the new mail -- the advert reload click is just too annoying) it's no surprise to discover that there's a blog buried in there. Quite deep, and no crowing about it yet; meet Yahoo 360, Beta.
It looks very smooth and modern, the feed aggregator is handy and it integrates smoothly with Yahoo's most shiny toy, Flickr. [Edit: Comments suggest that I may be wrong about that -- I didn't try to do much with it.] Although it'd be kind of embarassing if it didn't. Oh, and from the look of it Yahoo messenger is intended to run in the sidebar, although I don't really message, not since that time I got overexcited and started breaking things. So I don't know if that works.
I have a contact before I've finished building my profile, and it is actually someone I vaguely know. Although whether that was some sort of automatic thing or involved personal volition is open to debate, as no social interaction follows.
Apart from that aggravating ad banner at the top, it is quite pleasant and seamless to use. It loads quickly, which for someone used to Livejournal's endless lagging is refreshing, but probably only points to scale of use rather than effectiveness of programming. If Yahoo 360 was struggling under DDOS attacks and 185, 493 posts a day, it might well have similar problems.
Still, not really doing anything anywhere else isn't doing. I go look for people and the discovery that the search is based on geographical area, sex and age, following which you get to browse a lot of photos, tips me off as to what this place is actually for. Oh. Oh my. Thank goodness the photo I reached for first had me looking rough, nasty and several years out of date.
Verdict: I like the frog, but will probably flee as the IM hook-up scene isn't for me.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Sod this. I need something reassuring. Something cosy. Something fluffy. I hit the Wikipedia list of notable social networking websites in search of Web 2.0 Nirvana and find Dandelife.
After I've recovered from the shock of having my eyeballs massaged by dreamy green fields and nodding Dandelion clocks, and stopped boggling at how beautiful the web can look if you don't let people chose their own skins, I start poking around the rather bizarre set of functions, and rapidly discover the coolest thing ever. My personal timeline. Ah, sweet, sweet ego porn.
It has its own slang ("you have a new fan!"), a tidy feed aggregator, happy relationships with your twitters and flickrs, but none of this is as pretty or impressive as the timeline. That just rocks. And here! This is something the web can do for the world.
Think of a future with no bookshop units stuffed with thick shiny books covered with words like "uplifting" and "inspiring", jacketed with faces of ordinary people with awkward smiles whose stories you may wish to dip into, but don't want to buy and keep. Think of the trees. Think of the Oxfam Bookshop, bursting at the seams with unwanted publishers' makeweight.
And if you're thinking of writing the story of your life, do it somewhere searchable, rateable and easy on the eye. Don't do vanity press, do Dandelife.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Still, it's all more stuff for the bloody to-do list. In my case: 43 things, which of course comes bundled with allconsuming and oh a few other things probably but to be honest I initially started using it to track consumption over a christmas, and I wasn't exactly expecting to use the to-do list but actually I have and I get a little warm feeling every time someone cheers me on. Or whenever I give a cheer. I have to say, though, that I have not met a single person through it, nor do I use it religiously, nor do I use it for everything. I have a sneaking suspicion that I see it as a sort of well-meaning but somewhat naggy aunt, who always wants to know how I'm getting on with things and is full of woolly and rather random advice. It's also a place for full-blown whininess and things that are just too boring for words, which I try to avoid cluttering up any actual blogs with.
The end of the day comes. I harvest the best of my del.icio.us links and toss them into the Tumblr. Ooh, that was slick. Ooh mama. But will I still be doing it next week, Friday, tomorrow?
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
All this is instantly forgotten though, as I discover that Bebo has an integral Whiteboard. Instantly my fascination with crude drawing tools takes over. It's nothing special but damn it's cool to be able to doodle on your home page. Too bad that those friends of mine who are on Bebo already aren't using it any more -- especially as they're cartoonists.
From the schoolyard to the geekfile I go to sort out having a del.icio.us account already. Astounded I don't have one already? Consider the following statements:
- I'm in no danger of running out of cool things
- I can use a combination of google and site searches to find things again if I need to
- I don't know in the present what I will value in the future
It's smooth slick, easy and tidy, slithers through my work firewall with cheerful disdain and intalls itself into my life 2.0 with nary a flicker ... but there's no social aspect at all.
I do a few half-hearted seaches, but it's frankly no more fun than using google, and I'm not going to play guess the user name to look to see what my friends think are cool as I've posted four awesome things to the Tumblr already today.
Also I find myself reaching for it over a site I've found for work reasons and stop, wondering. Will I use it for work? Should I? It feels like a work tool, in the same way as some of google's online tools do; not part of the social web, but part of nomadic OS. Portable favourites.
And about that fun.
Verdict: I'm off to watch a gig instead.
Monday, May 21, 2007
I go into the Lobby first. After a moment of confusion, I realise the way communication works means you have to sidle up to a stranger's sprite and then talk to them. I watch somone trying it for a bit and gather (through the crude body langauage of basic emoticon) that it didn't go well. She disappears -- teleporting into a different room -- and suddenly ALL CAPS EXHORTATIONS TO VISIT HOTGIRLZ1101 interrupt us. Ah, you can "shout" and all the room will hear. I decide to try the cafe.
In the cafe, Billy stands out through his ability to speak in full words. I go over for a chat. Speak up, he says. I try again. Speak English, he says. This continues for a bit, until I realise that the counter between us must be borking my communication somehow. I sulk at a table for a bit, with Billy's pitiful requests for conversation pooling around me. Staff, probably. I decide to try a publicly-available, privately-built room.
It's pretty bare inside. Furniture costs, decor costs -- even interesting clothes cost, little micro-payments that are dribbled out through your mobile phone (if you opt for the premium service, which I haven't). There are a bunch of people talking, one of whom impatiently greets me and tells me to come in. The conversation is about whethr blondz are skankz or hos, or f wr all bein totly nfair to blond chix who rnt tht bd srly xcpt Linda hahahah soz no lol
I make it through a few lines of this before my coffee starts curdling and I'm compelled to find the Habbo cityport and see if I can throw myself off a cliff (I can't). Then I check out the FRANK drugs bus (closed), the Childline Zen Garden (empty except for a staff-member on a walk cycle and a single Habbo stood silent and abandoned by the doorway) and am considering looking for the Adviceberg (where I can find the people from Sexwise) when I find myself absentmindedly wandering around at the top of a towerblock, trying to get into an abandoned lift shaft. Fortunately, right at that moment, I get a crash.
You left the hotel! admonishes a small, mustachioed concierge, How could you!
I decide the Adviceberg can wait for another day, and (lacking the time to Flickr), opt for Facebook. My brief visit reveals that there are at least four separate Facebook communities dedicated to bringing back the Budweiser frogs ... but also one called Communist Frogs Will One Day Conquer The World, for those who acknowledge and accept the existence of our commie-frog overlords. So it's not as All Gone Wrong as I feared.
Verdict: For the gameboy generation, which is not me.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Don't just take my word for it, though; you can follow the whole thing on Flickr, as recorded by my housemate Damian, who often makes me feel like the subject of a documentary.
My Flickr Stream is a visual diary, and a place where I can find lovely eye-candy. And, of course there are people I only know through it and several friends who I keep up with exclusively through there -- the visual types, who like to chat while looking at pretty pictures.
Verdict: The place where you are subject, critic and author.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Livejournal. The very name makes grown programmers cry and parents of teenage goths everywhere sigh theatrically and then admit that they have one, too -- and one for the cat. When I first joined it, it was by invitation. It took me a day to see the obvious application, pass all of my friends invites and tell them that we had a new socialisation tool, and that they would need it for organising parties.
So, today I am going to party, which I found out about through Livejournal (although there was a back-up email), organised by someone I met through Livejournal, where I'll see some people who I know will be there because they said so, on their livejournals. We arranged lifts by mobile -- slack, but we did leave it a bit late.
This is only possible because of Livejournal's excellent privacy tools, which allow you to finely grade friends according to physical location, emotional closeness, in fact any damn reason you please (I have a friends filter called KillBoingBoing which removes everything (and everyone) I read 'for interest").
Of course, I use it for far more than that. I use their friends page as my primary feed aggregator, the scrapbook for sharing photos with friends, and keep up with distant friends and collaborators through their livejournak. It can do all these things, and even better than that ...
If you use Livejournal, you never run out of things to complain about -- and it's never your job to fix them*.
Verdict: Central to my Life 2.0.
*Yes, you can make it your problem if you want. The LJ volunteer community is waiting with open arms!
Friday, May 18, 2007
A quick search finds me a lot of ding-dongs in techie blogger which roughly read like this:
I heard your blog-gang are junking their Twitters and getting Jaikus. Flame andOK, I'm being harsh. But I swear, some commenters really read like they miss the way flame wars used to be, you know? So I join Jaiku and run a quick people search to check out the competition. He is:
Fume! Some blather about Ruby on Rails. How dare you? I'm still using
Twitter! I'm not! Jaiku is loadz better! I heard your blog-gang are junking
their Jaikus and going back to their Twitters! LOL!
- Playing Starcraft 2
- Watching The Office Season 3
- Watching DL.TV from [his] ipod onto a digital projector
... and his mates are all feeds from Twitter. Some of them are web celebrities -- look, there's Scott Kurtz. Ah (penny drops). You can use the people search on Jaiku to find people's Twitters, blogs, etc.
Other than that, if you're like Jeremy, Jaiku may well be for you. It has "channels" covering a bunch of standard interests, and nothing about the name suggests that you might be a wittering twit (which is sort of implicit in Twitter's nomenclature). On the whole, it seems like an altogether more serious place. Which is kind of its downfall ...
The first time I decided to try the posting by sms thing (October 2004, using an LJ utility) I knew it was a fairly bonkers idea, that was likely to confuse and mystify. Twitter embraces the absurdity; Jaiku is SRS website for SRS people.
And, given that I'm pretty secure in my identity as a wittering twit, and my excessive social connectivity leaves little time for stalking, I'll probably be sticking with Twitter.
Verdict: OK BYE!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
You might be thinking to yourself, clearly this is a no-job, no-hope, no-life wastrel!
Wrong, my friend, wrong. Meet the news:
Over the next three months, in Habbo Hotel, trained advisors from [x] will be hosting regular [x] advice sessions to provide you with confidential information on [x]. Habbo is an interactive online community aimed at children between the ages of 14 - 18.
Not that I work for [x], oh dear me, no. In fact the [x] is merely representative. There are lots of organisations offering Information, Advice and Guidance within Habbo. Just ask Mr BBC. But is this the future of information provision to (young) people or is it just handing more wealth to the information haves while missing the information have-nots?
And, most importantly, do people trust information told by them by a shock-haired sprite with a 2 1/2 dimensional friendly smile?
These, unfortunately, are questions that'll have to wait for later, as I can register, but not access the Shockwave-powered hotel through my company firewall. I'll give it another go this evening.
But in the meantime, I spot a thing called Explode which looks like it'll be almost as fast and easy as Tumblr was -- and I'm not just saying that because it's a friend's latest start-up. That's "Friend" in the Livejournal sense, although I think I have on one occasion been in the same pub as the person in question. Wouldn't really be able to pick him out of a crowd of young entrepreneurs, mind.
So: ex.plode.us. A social search that whiffles through a bunch of social sites pulling out interests and people. Doesn't need a new sign-up, it'll use one of several other sites (and yes, that's where the information's coming from, too).
I get annoyed by a monkey and find a lot of people I know already. And go home and forget all about logging onto Habbo hotel after getting excited by planting mixed alyssum and cooking a tasty fish stew. Sometimes Life 2.0 just can't compete.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
So yes, today I create a Tumblr, presumably meant to be the companion piece to your Twitter and your Flickr. It's essentially a hacked-off blogspot with almost no options. None of this hassling you to upgrade templates (yes, alright, I'll get round to it), in fact, nothing of anything much except a slickity-slick design and a super-fast interface.
You also (and forgive me for being picky here, but) can't find other Tmblrs without logging out and going looking for them from the Tumblr home page. At which point you can't add them as friends because you're not logged in! Guess that makes it -- like a blog -- something more orientated towards production than consumption. Ah! No, I seem to have cracked that. Probably something to do with not running the latest version of windows explorertm or a glitch of a similar value.
Well, I've added one random stranger, but it's still not the easiest place to find people. Apart from the anything else, just as in real life, the ability to add friends seems to come and go at random. I'm sure there's a lesson there for us all.
Ooops. Just Tumbled again. With a LOL_owl, no less. (This one). Have to admit, it is kind of addictive.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Anyway, after the fourth email, I thought right, I'll look at your damn events page then.
At this point, anyone who uses Facebook will be pointing at me and laughing. Seeing events on Facebook without being a member? Oooh, Grandma, can I help you to your virtual zimmer frame?
Given that I've not had a college email address since 1993 (yes, Virginia, there was an internet in 1993, it was just mostly full of muck, mud and furries) no, I'm not on Facebook, the online community where less nimble students and employees discover to their astonishment that their tutors and bosses are in fact quite likely to be in the same "networks" as them.
We-ell, I wasn't. I am now. Isn't it nifty? I can now spot out teenagers going to the same gigs as me. Join a Flashmob. Upload photos nobody else can see. Tell the world about my "status".
Hold your breath, world: Jeremy Dennis wearing a new dinosaur t-shirt.
Not that any of this matters, as actually the only reason to have a Facebook is if people you know have one and use it. To which the answer is probably yes (it certainly was for me). Other than that, the features work, the ads are unobtrusive and the design won't actually make your eyeballs run away bleeding.
So Facebook = a win. Best feature -- its killer feature, in fact -- is unquestionably the way it takes a quick anonymised shuffle through your webmail address books to see if your mates are already at the party. Will use in future? Possibly.
I'm probably not going to be organising my Barbecues on it any time soon, though...