OPLIN 4cast #442: Beam it up

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

droneFacebook and Google are both involved in ambitious and interesting projects to economically expand Internet access to some of the most remote areas on earth by using the skies above us. Google’s Project Loon would use balloons in the stratosphere to connect cell phones on earth to the global Internet. Facebook’s Internet.org (with several other partners) would use a variety of aerial means, including drones, to do something similar. The technology behind these projects is pretty interesting, and certainly the goals are commendable. But some people are worried that the organizations driving this expansion of connectivity are for-profit Internet companies.

  • How Loon works (Project Loon | Google)  “Each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area about 40 km in diameter using a wireless communications technology called LTE. To use LTE, Project Loon partners with telecommunications companies to share cellular spectrum so that people will be able to access the Internet everywhere directly from their phones and other LTE-enabled devices. Balloons relay wireless traffic from cell phones and other devices back to the global Internet using high-speed links.”
  • Connecting the world from the sky [pdf] (internet.org/projects | Mark Zuckerberg)  “For lower population densities, where people are spread out across a large area, the higher up you go, the more cost effective it becomes to place trunk stations and to deliver the internet. But signal loss will also be higher, so satellite access is only really a way of providing a basic internet experience for remote communities. Likewise, for high population densities, only lower altitude platforms will be truly effective, and connection speeds will be faster and the experience better for a lot of people. Given these challenges, Facebook is working on a range of technologies that will provide different options for connecting people.”
  • Facebook’s Internet.org platform is a privacy nightmare (MediaNama | Nikhil Pahwa)  “First up, no matter what Facebook says about Internet.org being a means of promoting Internet usage, it isn’t. It’s a fundamental, permanent change in the way the Internet works by splitting it into free vs paid access. It isn’t the same as giving someone Rs 10 of data access or even 100 mb. It is a permanent shift. While the kingmaker issue has been somewhat addressed by opening up the platform, there is only one true king in all of this, which is Facebook.”
  • Critics fear tech giant dominance of airborne internet (Al Jazeera | Tarek Bazley)  “But critics say Google’s search engine is already a powerful force online and any move that would see it controlling infrastructure as well, would give the company too much power. ‘Drones and balloons, these are awesome but what are they being used for?’ says Aral Balkan, an independent internet developer. ‘Are the underlying power dynamics changing? Or is it again a very small group of people exerting their power and control over a much larger group?’”

Articles from Ohio Web Library:

OPLIN 4cast #438: Instant Articles

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Facebook logoLast week, Facebook launched Instant Articles, putting entire news stories from nine news organizations inside Facebook’s mobile app where people can read them rather than going to a website. Facebook says one of the main reasons for this arrangement is speed: articles delivered through Facebook’s mobile app supposedly load as much as ten times faster than the same article from a website. But some writers who offer commentary on the implications of technology changes think they see something other than just more speed going on here.

  • Is Facebook a partner or a competitor for media companies? Yes. (Fortune | Matthew Ingram)  “What Facebook wants is to deepen and strengthen its hold on users. In that sense, news content is just a means to an end. And the risk is that if it stops being an effective means to that end, then Facebook will lose interest in promoting it. But in the meantime, Facebook will have solidified its status as the default place where millions or possibly even billions of people go to get their news.”
  • First Click: The inevitability of Facebook instant articles (The Verge | Thomas Ricker)  “For the Facebook user, the benefit is clear: get the stories they’re already clicking on faster. For publishers though, it’s fraught with risk as they relinquish the distribution platform in order to meet readers where they are. It’s a return to Aol’s walled garden only with Zuck as its topiarist.”
  • The walled gardens of the Web are growing (ReadWrite | David Nield)  “With 1.4 billion users and growing, Facebook has a much better chance [than AOL] of becoming the Web for the majority of people who use it. That may do wonders for page loading times and tilt-to-pan photos, but it means we’re all playing by Mark Zuckerberg’s rules, both publishers and readers alike. That’s not a privilege that Facebook, Google or anyone else should have.”
  • 6 reasons the media insiders panicking about Facebook Instant Articles are wrong (Vox | Timothy B. Lee)  “The big worry of Instant Article skeptics is that users will get used to the fast loading of Instant Articles, and that this will have two negative effects. First, as the experience of reading news on Facebook improves, more people will do it, further expanding Facebook’s market share and — therefore — its power. And second, users will become more reluctant to click on links to outside articles and wait several seconds for the article to load. This argument doesn’t take the welfare of Facebook users seriously. The several-second delay between the time a user clicks on a link and the time she’s able to read an article is a real problem.”

Articles from Ohio Web Library:

OPLIN 4cast #416: Facebook at Work

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Facebook @workA few weeks ago, The Financial Times reported that Facebook plans to build a version of Facebook for workplace communication, called simply “Facebook at Work.” While the FT report garnered a lot of attention, this news was leaked as long ago as last June and is now just being reported with Facebook’s blessing. The many reactions to the news in the technology media gravitated toward two different opinions: Facebook at Work could either have a big impact on the workplace of the future, or it could be a miserable failure.

  • How ‘Facebook at Work’ could alter the social enterprise landscape (CIO | Matt Kapko)  “Social media has slowly percolated into business life, but for the most part it remains a separate function and utility during working hours. No company has successfully made the leap from consumer to enterprise and combined the two together at any scale even remotely similar to Facebook’s 1.35 billion monthly users. Facebook at Work will reportedly look and operate like the traditional version of Facebook, but it will allow users to chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate on documents in a space that’s separate from their personal identities and activities.”
  • ‘Facebook at Work’ could target Google and LinkedIn (MarketWatch | Quentin Fottrell)  “With only 322 million users, LinkedIn is still a minnow compared to Facebook’s Leviathan. Facebook is also a fun social network where people have learned about their own personal brand and how to present themselves online for job hunters who investigate their digital footprint, and could usurp LinkedIn much in the same way a more intuitive iPhone replaced the BlackBerry for both work and play….”
  • Facebook developing ‘Facebook at Work’ service, says report (Wired | Issie Lapowsky)  “The Financial Times reports that although users of Facebook at Work will be able to keep their personal accounts separate, the site will include Facebook staples, including groups and News Feed. And yet, it may be a challenge for Facebook, a company intent on tapping user data for advertising purposes, to convince businesses that their internal documents and conversations will remain confidential on the site.”
  • Facebook at Work? Not so fast. (Re/Code | Kurt Wagner)  “Even though the new product will be separate, Facebook’s tools aren’t associated with many workplace environments. In the financial services industry, for example, the use of Facebook and even personal email accounts is forbidden for both security and productivity reasons. Facebook will need to convince businesses it can be trusted with sensitive information that’s passed around company discussion boards. That’ll be a challenge as Facebook’s trove of user data often rubs people the wrong way — they’ve made a business out of our personal information, after all.”

Articles from Ohio Web Library:

OPLIN 4cast #387: Social WiFi

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

social wifiEver heard of social WiFi? Well, we know that using any password to authenticate users of a WiFi network, even a simple one posted on signs around the library, is good practice because it automatically encrypts the WiFi traffic instead of sending it through the air in clear text. So what if you asked your library WiFi users to login with their social media credentials instead of yet-another-password. And then a library computer could look through their Facebook postings (for example) to look for the kinds of books they like to read and send them “ads” for similar books in your library. That kind of thing is called “social WiFi,” and it’s a significant trend in businesses that provide public WiFi.

  • Purple WiFi and Wavelink join forces to offer social WiFi (Connect World/Purple WiFi press release)  “The guests log into the secure hotspot system using social media authentication, via networks such as Facebook or Twitter. The venue providing the connection gains valuable demographic and engagement information from users through its Purple Portal, which allows the business to understand who is visiting and using their hotspot, how long they are online, as well as their age, gender and any other relevant information that they offer in their social networking profile. The portal also provides a powerful engagement tool to promote relevant offers, essentially rewarding guests for visiting the venue.”
  • Social WiFi sign-in: Benefits with a dark side (Network COmputing/Lee Badman)  “As strange as it seems, despite the wide-open nature of our social media personas, we still expect a modicum of control over how our information gets used. Social WiFi undercuts that odd, fragile handle we have on our social media data to monetize and upsell us in ways that don’t make me really comfortable. Once the data is mined and conclusions are drawn from it, we become new people in the eyes of the social WiFi provider, with no control over how the process presents us.”
  • Too much information? Facebook, Google face backlash over logins (Wall Street Journal/Elizabeth Dwoskin)  “Facebook recently said it would begin to offer anonymous logins and also allow users to choose which data they want to share, a response to privacy concerns. The head of Google+ recently stepped down amid signs the social network isn’t popular with users. ‘We’ve gotten feedback,’ said Eddie O’Neil, product manager for Facebook Login. ‘We first heard from people that they want more transparency, second, more control.’”
  • Social Wi-Fi and privacy: Keeping balance in the force (AirTight Networks blog/Sean Blanton)  “Remember that while mobility is fairly ubiquitous in our society, it very much skews to millennials who (like myself) are getting older and expanding our interactions beyond school and home. I’d argue that free Wi-Fi and a dessert coupon in exchange for my name, age and city is a pretty sweet deal, and I’d be excited to see what other places I frequent would provide me with a tailored experiences instead of generic, seemingly unhelpful ones.”

Login fact:
According to recent data collected by LoginRadius, people use a Facebook account most often for social logins (49%), followed by Google+ (29%), and Twitter (6%).

OPLIN 4Cast #324: Facebook and young adults

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

FB questionMany public libraries have active Facebook accounts, and many of them originally joined Facebook in an effort to connect with their younger library users. But nothing stays the same, especially not in social media, and it may be that Facebook will not be the best way to reach young adults in the near future. There is both anecdotal and statistical evidence of a growing shift away from Facebook among young adults. That doesn’t mean your library should abandon Facebook; it just means you should be aware that your audience is shifting.

  • Coming and going on Facebook (Pew Internet/Lee Rainie, Aaron Smith, Maeve Duggan)  “Young adults are the most likely forecasters of decreased engagement. Some 38% of Facebook users ages 18-29 expect to spend less time using the site in 2013, although a majority of users across age groups anticipate that their Facebook usage will remain largely stable in the year to come.”
  • The age of the brag is over: why Facebook might be losing teens (The Verge/Ellis Hamburger)  “When Facebook launched, it was cool to expose details about yourself, like what movies you like, what you’re doing right now, and who you’re in a relationship with. It was, dare I say, exhilarating — being able to share freely with the world without having to learn how to code or even how to apply a MySpace theme. At some point, adding these details, like hundreds of photos from a recent vacation and status updates about your new job amounted to bragging — force-feeding Facebook friends information they didn’t ask for. What was once cool was now uncool.”
  • Why teens are tiring of Facebook (CNET/Jennifer Van Grove)  “For tweens and teens, Instagram — and, more recently, SnapChat, an app for sending photos and videos that appear and then disappear — is the opposite of Facebook: simple, seemingly secret, and fun. Around schools, kids treat these apps like pot, enjoyed in low-lit corners, and all for the undeniable pleasure and temporary fulfillment of feeling cool. Facebook, meanwhile, with its Harvard dorm room roots, now finds itself scrambling to keep up with the tastes of the youngest trendsetters — even as it has its hooks in millions of them since it now owns Instagram.”
  • Teens say ‘later’ to Facebook, shift to photo chats (MSN Money/Michelle V. Rafter)  “Young fans have helped make Instagram and Snapchat the third- and fourth-most popular free photo apps for Apple iOS, and the Nos. 19 and 22 most popular free apps overall, according to mobile app researcher AppData. Kids who’ve grown up hearing their parents lectures on the dangers of posting inappropriate material online like the ephemeral nature of Snapchat, which many use to send ‘selfies,’ pictures of themselves posing, making faces or being silly.”

Business fact:
As mentioned above, Facebook may not be too concerned about losing teens from their site. The Facebook company paid $715 million last year to buy Instagram, one of the new, cool apps.

OPLIN 4Cast #284: Personal data: Making the trade

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

There are a lot of companies providing services on the Internet that have lately decided they need to make your “web experience” more personal. Yahoo! has just introduced Axis, Microsoft recently made their Bing search more social, Google has encouraged people to log in to their Google accounts before they use the Chrome browser to enhance their experience, and there’s speculation that Facebook will soon use the mountains of “like” and profile data it collects to offer people a more personalized web search. There’s little doubt that these new web tools offer a better, custom-fit Internet experience in return for giving the companies access to some personal data. But what’s in it for the companies? Are they improving your web experience just because they like you? Well, no. When your personal data is combined with other data, it’s possible to create a valuable commodity.

  • Facebook’s IPO and the Laws of Big Data (SmartData Collective/Gil Press)  “The value of personal data is zero. Personal data is not worth much if it’s kept personal and a sample of one is good for answering a very limited set of questions. Personal data gains value when it is shared, when it is combined with and compared to other data.”
  • Personal data needs clear trading rules (World Economic Forum Blog/John Rose and Carl Kalapesi)  “…personal data is a highly valuable asset, like oil or water. And like these assets, it needs to flow or move to create value. But unlike these and many other tangible assets, data is not consumed when used. Instead, its use increases its value because new data elements are accumulated, providing greater insights into individuals.”
  • The cost of losing a customer’s trust (GigaOM/Ki Mae Heussner)  “In this report – and a highly cited report on the topic last year – the World Economic Forum calls personal data ‘an emerging asset class.’ But to really extract its value, the organization argues, public and private institutions need to rethink how they do business so that consumers get more protection, rights and opportunities to hold organizations accountable when it comes to their data.”
  • A stock exchange for your personal data (Technology Review/Jessica Leber)  “On his [Bernardo Huberman, director of HP Lab’s Social Computing Research Group] proposed market, a person who highly values her privacy might chose an option to sell her shopping patterns for $10, but at a big risk of not finding a buyer. Alternately, she might sell the same data for a guaranteed payment of 50 cents. Or she might opt out and keep her privacy entirely. You won’t find any kind of opportunity like this today. But with Internet companies making billions of dollars selling our information, fresh ideas and business models that promise users control over their privacy are gaining momentum.”

Privacy fact:
In March, 73% of poll respondents told the Pew Internet and American Life Project that they would “NOT BE OKAY” with a search engine keeping track of their searches and using that information to personalize their future search results.

OPLIN 4Cast #282: Social readers fail?

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Before you start worrying, we’re not talking about people who read together in “social” book clubs; today we’re talking about social reader apps on Facebook. These apps let you read news items and blog postings, as well as comment on them, without leaving Facebook. Some choose news items for you based on your Facebook information or on topics that are trending among your friends. Many also share what you’ve been reading with your friends. They’ve been around for about a year and have been most widely offered by newspapers, which use them to boost readership. But now some data suggests that their popularity is falling rapidly.

  • How to save social readers from extinction (Fortune/Alex Konrad)  “Like a twenty-first century version of the loud-mouthed newsy on the corner, readers from the likes of The Guardian and The Washington Post allow users to peruse articles while sharing their literary habits with friends and contacts on Facebook. That’s all well and good when you’re reading a sober, in-depth analysis of super-PAC financing, for instance. But broadcasting that diversionary gallery of Lindsay Lohan’s evolving locks? Not so much.”
  • Facebook social readers are all collapsing (BuzzFeed/John Herrman)  “My brain already associates those little blocks of auto-fed stories with second-class content. I mean, I know my friends didn’t really mean to show it to me. Why would I click? And god, why would I sign up for the thing that seems to have tricked its way into my timeline? It’s an app that broadcasts internet illiteracy for everyone to see.”
  • Privacy perils of social reading (KurzweilAI News)  “[Privacy law expert Neil] Richards notes that the work of the American Libraries Association and its Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) offers an attractive solution to the problem of reader records. ‘The OIF has argued passionately and correctly for the importance of solitary reading as well as the ethical need for those who enable reading – librarians, but also Internet companies – to protect the privacy and confidentiality of reading records,’ he says.”
  • Data shows social readers have mixed results, but aren’t ‘collapsing’ (Inside Facebook/Brittany Darwell)  “Many users have complained about social reader applications, mostly those that require users to authorize the app and share their activity in order to read any article. We recommend developers add clear controls for users to decide what to share, when and with whom. There also seems to be a lack of explanation of what users gain from enabling this type of sharing.”

Popularity fact:
The Washington Post social reader was one of the first available and once had 17 million monthly users, but now has less than 10 million.

OPLIN 4Cast #277: Timeline tips

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The new Facebook Timeline format for Pages has been rolled out for everyone now, including “brand Pages” for companies and organizations, such as libraries. That means many libraries have been, or will be, spending time reworking the graphics and other features of their Facebook Pages. You might be wondering how your library users are viewing those changes, and a new eye-tracking study (pdf) by the market research company SimpleUsability provides some answers.

  • Eye-tracking: Consumers disorientated by new Timeline (BizReport/Helen Leggatt)  “SimpleUsability’s eye-tracking research found that consumers dismiss the cover image as advertising and, with little to distinguish pinned posts from other content, they are often missed. According to SimpleUsability, ‘no users realized the pinned post was intended to be highlighted’.”
  • Adapting to Facebook Timeline is a huge challenge for brands, here are some tips on where to focus (The Next Web/Nancy Messieh)  “If you haven’t already filled in your brand’s history into the Timeline, you should do it now. It certainly will take a bit of effort, but it’s worth it. Simple Usability found that users gravitate towards the Timeline navigation on the right hand side of the page. Users are interested in finding out more about the brand, pre-dating its Facebook existence, which represents a chance to communicate with them.”
  • Eye movement study reveals six must-know things about Facebook brand Pages (ReadWriteWeb/Dave Copeland)  “Timeline’s biggest benefit for brands, according to the study, is the ability to tell a brand’s story. The Timeline design is particularly effective in accomplishing this online, but users also liked the ease of finding the ‘About’ button on brand pages. In many cases, users said it was easier to learn about a brand than it was on a corporate Web site.”
  • Report: How effective is Timeline for Pages? The eyes have it (All Facebook/David Cohen)  “Regular updates are more important than ever with the layout of timeline for pages. Simple Usability found that users consider themselves to be up-to-date on topics such as sports and music, and they expect Facebook pages to be the same way.”

Updates fact:
Another new study by Recommend.ly found that 82% of Facebook brand Pages are updated less than five times a month, while politicians update their Pages more than twice a day.

OPLIN 4Cast #227: Lessons from Bobsled

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Last week, T-Mobile received quite a bit of attention in the technical media when they introduced “Bobsled,” an app for Facebook that allows Facebook friends to talk to one another through their Facebook pages. This week, it’s gone, temporarily suspended because of “design questions” from Facebook. While Bobsled’s fast up-and-down trajectory is noteworthy in itself, it also illustrates just how much Facebook has become a widespread communication medium, one which has the ability to handle all types of communication. The “between the lines” message for public libraries in this week’s 4cast: if you have a Facebook page, you should be gearing up now to handle direct patron-to-library communications through Facebook.

  • T-Mobile’s Bobsled brand offers VOIP calling for Facebook (eWeek/Michelle Maisto)  “First to launch under the Bobsled brand […] is a Facebook application that lets Facebook users—who don’t need to be T-Mobile subscribers—call their “friends” through Facebook’s chat window. The first VOIP (voice over IP) app to integrate into Facebook Chat, according to T-Mobile, users can place a call by clicking on a friend’s name. There are no screen names or numbers to remember. Should the friend be unavailable, users can leave a private audio message on the friend’s wall. And to receive a Bobsled call through Facebook, you don’t need to download anything.”
  • T-Mobile’s Bobsled is a free, Facebook-based, VoIP app (MobileCrunch/Devin Coldewey)  “So Bobsled is T-Mobile’s wedge in the video chat world, an answer to Facetime and Skype that’s carrier-operated and can easily be included on T-Mobile-branded devices like the G-Slate and G-series phones. I haven’t tested it out, but it’d be hard to mess this up. It looks like this first step was taken mainly because it was the easiest (just branding a licensed service), and the meat of the program will show up later.”
  • T-Mobile challenges Skype, Google with ‘Bobsled’ Facebook VOIP app (PC Magazine/Mark Hachman)  “In March, Facebook and Skype were said to be mulling a partnership that would tie Skype directly into the Facebook environment. Currently, users can call Facebook friends using Skype, a less integrated approach. ‘Last year we announced the integration of Facebook in Skype, so people can keep up to date with their Facebook friends through News Feed in Skype and even call and SMS their Facebook friends on any phone from Skype,’ Facebook said in March. ‘With regards to any further integration, we don’t comment on rumor and speculation and have nothing to announce at this time.'”
  • Bobsled goes off the tracks: T-Mobile suspends its Facebook voice service (mocoNews/Ingrid Lunden)  “Facebook and Skype announced a cooperative agreement last year […] but so far that has not extended into the golden, 500-million user opportunity of offering Skype voice and video calls from within Facebook. If Facebook did enter into such a deal, having another voice (and potentially video) service available on Facebook, like Bobsled, could confuse people—and moreover drive users to the competing service instead of the one that Facebook itself was actually promoting.”

Demand fact:
T-Mobile claims that 88% of Facebook users want voice chat built into Facebook.

OPLIN 4Cast #222: Facebook research

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Over the next few weeks, OPLIN staff (mostly Laura Solomon) will be presenting programs at several Ohio Library Council Chapter Conferences about how libraries can use social media effectively. One of the most popular venues for libraries in the social media world is undoubtedly Facebook, which now claims to have more than 600 million active users. With that many people using Facebook, it was inevitable that it would become the subject of social research projects. Today we look at results of four recent Facebook studies that we thought might be interesting to our readers.

  • Young users hating on brands (Brandweek/Mike Shields)  “According to a new report from Forrester Research, just 6 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds who use the Web desire to be friends with a brand on Facebook—despite the fact that half of this demographic uses the site. Among Web-connected 18- to 24-year-olds that figure does double—meaning that 12 percent of that demo is OK with befriending brands—though the vast majority of young adults are not, per Forrester. Even scarier for brands: Young people don’t want brands’ friendship, and they think brands should go away.”
  • Australian study links Facebook use with narcissism (Miller-McCune/Tom Jacobs)  “Among Facebook users, the amount of time spent on the site per day varied widely. Seventeen percent of users reported they spent 10 minutes or less, 24 percent between 10 and 30 minutes, 23 percent between 31 and 60 minutes, 17 percent between one and two hours, and 19 percent two hours or more.”
  • Facebook more popular than porn for UK users (BBC Newsbeat/Dan Whitworth)  “The internet research company [Experian Hitwise] says that in January sites like Facebook accounted for 12.46% of all online traffic. That’s the equivalent of 2.4 billion hits or one eighth of all web visits. In comparison entertainment websites, including pornographic ones, accounted for 12.18% of traffic. It’s the first time social networking has overtaken entertainment in terms of popularity. Of those, social network site Facebook accounted for more than half, or 56%, of visits.”
  • Subscribers, fans, & followers: The Social Break-Up (ExactTarget blog/Kristeen Hudson)  “If the company fails any of these relationship tests, a ‘social break-up’—i.e., an ‘unsubscribe,’ ‘unfan,’ ‘unlike,’ or ‘unfollow’—is all but inevitable. When the consumer is no longer happy in the relationship, they will actively break off contact with the company…or just ignore their communications in the hopes the company will get the message that it’s over.”

Directory fact:
OPLIN maintains a directory of Ohio public library Facebook sites. If your library site is not on the list, please contact us.