OPLIN 4Cast #261: Tweets, tweets, what are they good for?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

It’s difficult to grasp the amount of information people generate each day in the form of short little tweets. Many of these tweets (some people would say most of them) seem to be useless information, while some tweeters, teamed up with other tweeters, have been credited with bringing down governments this year. Some organizations think even seemingly useless tweets have value and are putting a lot of effort into collecting them – often for very different reasons, not all of them benign.

  • Library of Congress says Twitter archive will build “unique record of our time” (The Next Web/Jon Russell)  “The archives of tweets will be available to [program manager Bill] Lefurgy’s team for research, as it seeks to find and analyse ‘interesting data’ from the information[…] The number of tweets to be archived has grown rapidly from the 50 million a day that was recorded when Twitter and the library first linked up last year. According to Twitter’s latest figures, an average of 140 million tweets are sent across its service per day, that’s an awful lot of data to store and analyse.”
  • DataSift to offer access to historical tweets (TechCrunch/Erick Schonfeld)  “When the service is launched more broadly later next year, it will go back as far as two years. DataSift allows for all sorts of data analysis because it pours all the tweets into a structured database. So you can give it queries like: ‘Give me all the tweets that mention TechCrunch from people who do not follow @techcrunch’ or ‘All females in the UK who mention fashion.’”
  • Twitter partner Gnip raises $2M for social media monitoring data (All Things D/Liz Gannes)  “Gnip will offer social media monitoring companies the Halfhose (50 percent of Tweets at a cost of $30,000 per month), the Decahose (10 percent of Tweets for $5,000 per month) and the Mentionhose (all mentions of a user including @replies and re-Tweets for $20,000 per month), with the caveat that they can’t publicly display the data.”
  • CIA following Twitter, Facebook (Associated Press/Kimberly Dozier)  “The CIA facility was set up in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, with its first priority to focus on counterterrorism and counterproliferation. But its several hundred analysts — the actual number is classified — track a broad range, from Chinese Internet access to the mood on the street in Pakistan.”

Holiday bonus:
This is not related to Twitter, but… a former editor of the 4cast found a very interesting infographic about email habits. Cool!

OPLIN 4Cast #228: Buzz gone wild

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Since last week’s 4cast, two events—the British royal wedding and the death of Osama bin Laden—have generated record amounts of Internet traffic, particularly on social media sites. While bin Laden’s death was unexpected, the royal wedding was highly anticipated and heavily promoted ahead of time. All sorts of organizations, from the British royal family to ice cream makers, geared up to capture the Internet interest in the wedding and to make a little money from it. But once again, social media proved very difficult to control, and the “buzz” wasn’t always what it was supposed to be.

  • The scorecard on royal wedding Internet traffic (MediaBeat/Dean Takahashi)  “Akamai Technologies, which handles 20 percent of the world’s web traffic, said page views peaked at 5.4 million a minute early Friday morning for 100 news portals that it serves. That was the sixth-largest amount of traffic ever, short of the 10.4 million record page views set on June 24 during the World Cup last year. The number was high considering most North Americans were asleep at the time.”
  • William and Kate’s World Wide Wedding (BBC News/Iain Mackenzie)  “Leading the online celebrations was the British monarchy’s own royal wedding website. Visitors were directed to the official Clarence House Twitter feed, the royal Flickr photo account, and the wedding ‘event’ page on Facebook.”
  • Royal wedding’s ‘Frowning Flower Girl’ rules Internet (Digital Life/Helen A.S. Popkin)  “…3-year-old bridesmaid Grace Van Cutsem is hands-down the royal wedding meme to rule the Internet. As newlyweds Wills and Kate shared an uncomfortable micro-kiss from the Buckingham Palace balcony, the roar of the adoring crowd proved to be a bit much for little Grace, who will no doubt live down her new meme moniker, the ‘Frowning Flower Girl’ well into her senior years.”
  • The pitfall Of Twitter’s ‘Promoted Trends’ #RoyalWedding (TechCrunch/Alexia Tsotsis)  “For the past few days the chatter around the #RoyalWedding has been plentiful, but not necessarily all positive. Diet shake Slim Fast bought the #RoyalWedding Promoted Trends slot yesterday, and at some point had its brand message (and its inexplicable link to its Facebook page) associated with sundry undesirable content.”

Advertising fact:
Twitter’s Promoted Trends place an advertiser’s message at the top of the “trends” section of users’ pages. Twitter only sells one per day, and the price is reported to be around $100,000.

OPLIN 4Cast #218: Blog posts vs. social media posts

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Many people think the recent protests and changes of government in the Middle East have been enabled by widespread use of Facebook and Twitter, and you may even have heard these upheavals called “Facebook revolutions.” This is certainly a very different use of social media than the more common status updates that inform the world of nothing more momentous than what someone ate for breakfast; this is social media used for broadcasting news and ideas, things that used to be the domain of blogs. These days, blogging seems to be waning while tweeting is becoming more important. (Recent 4cast blog postings, for example, are also summarized in Twitter and Facebook postings, which was not the practice when the 4cast was started about four years ago.) This subtle change in the way social media is used might result in changes to the social media itself.

  • Blogs wane as the young drift to sites like Twitter (New York Times/Verne G. Kopytoff)  “Among 18-to-33-year-olds […] blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier. Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.”
  • It’s Facebook vs. Twitter in the race to make the news social (GigaOM/Mathew Ingram)  “At one point not that long ago, it looked like Facebook might be trying to become a news platform in a different way, by aggregating news itself, as a way of becoming a sort of personalized newspaper for users. There were some initial moves in that direction that didn’t really go anywhere, and then more recently the network launched something it called ‘community pages,’ which aggregate posts based on topic keywords and looked as though they could become a news aggregation service.”
  • Why Twitter must expand beyond 140 characters (ReadWriteWeb/Richard MacManus)  “When Twitter launched its re-design in March last year, it adjusted to this increase of multimedia by enabling users of Twitter.com (still how the vast majority of people consume Twitter content) to view photos and video within Twitter’s website. It was a relatively small, but significant, step to lessen the burden of viewing multimedia content within Twitter. […] It seems only a matter of time before Twitter enables users to view ‘long tweets’ within Twitter.com, in the same way that users can view videos and photos within the site.”
  • Why Twitter should never expand beyond 140 characters (TheNextWeb/Francis Tan)  “There’s actually a reason behind the not-so-arbitrary 140 character limit of Twitter and that is simply to fit in an SMS message. It’s a limitation that actually defines and sets Twitter apart from other services in so many good ways. It is easier to consume, cheaper in terms of SMS/data sent and received, and it actually encourages people to get straight to the point.”

Ohio blog fact:
You don’t have to look far for an example of a news blog that is enhanced (replaced?) by social media postings. If you are interested in Ohio political news, you may be a reader of Marc Kovac’s Capital Blog, but followers of his tweets (@OhioCapitalBlog) are also getting a lot of very timely political news—though admittedly, a good many of Mr. Kovac’s tweets only concern his favorite hot beverage.

OPLIN 4Cast #217: News from the (digital) archives

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

This posting collects several recent news items that all deal with some aspect of archiving digital material, or digitizing archival material. The topics range from clever activities on the part of enterprising individuals to enterprises making clever use of individual activities. And not all the news is good.

(As a bonus, you might enjoy this interesting article about digized archives being used to corroborate an archeological find.)

  • Digital archivist saves 172 BBC websites in a torrent (Wired.co.uk/Mark Brown)  “In a wave of brutal cuts at the broadcasting corporation, the BBC recently announced plans to shut down 172 websites in an attempt to scrimp on server fees. ‘The material taken offline is stored for future reference,’ said BBC Online managing editor Ian Hunter, ‘or deleted altogether.'”
  • National Library of Finland turns to crowdsourcing, games to help digitize its archives (ReadWriteWeb/Audrey Watters)  “…the game helps verify the OCR and make sure that digitized materials are accurate and searchable. ‘We wanted to set up “Angry Birds for the Thinking Person”—something which entertains but is also useful to us as a nation,’ says Ekholm, who anticipates teachers and children will enjoy volunteering to help these digitization efforts. Additional phases of the project will be aimed at ‘more serious historical buffs.'”
  • Trouble for the tweet keepers?: Library of Congress’s ambitious plan to create a Twitter archive still hasn’t taken flight (Boston Globe/Alex Beam)  “I suspect this has devolved into an unholy technical and legal clusterfunk, with lawyers piling upon lawyers a la Google Book Settlement to produce a highly compromised and entirely unrewarding result.”
  • Internet Archive releases new version of The Wayback Machine (Information Today/Gary Price)  “The first thing you’ll notice is that Wayback now has its own URL. You can access the beta at http://www.waybackmachine.org. When you arrive at the site you’ll notice that except for a bit of text below the search box it’s a basic search box and two buttons. That’s it. This is in stark contrast to a massive amount of text you can see surrounds the interface (what’s now being referred to as the ‘classic interface’) at http://www.archive.org or http://web.archive.org. The two buttons are labeled ‘Latest’ and ‘Show All.'”

Web archive fact:
The Wayback Machine stores more than 150 billion archived web pages dating back to 1996.

OPLIN 4Cast #204: Locking down WiFi

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

wifi padlockUp until now, many public libraries have not been too concerned with the security of their public wireless networks. Libraries, after all, are open to the public, so why shouldn’t their networks be “open,” too? Does it really matter if a neighbor might “steal” some of the library’s bandwidth? But about a week before Halloween, the Firesheep extension for the Firefox web browser rattled the WiFi world. Suddenly, it became ludicrously easy to use open WiFi library networks to steal patrons’ usernames and passwords to unsecured websites like Facebook and Twitter. Suddenly, there’s a really good reason to lock down the library WiFi.

  • Firesheep in wolves’ clothing: extension lets you hack into Twitter, Facebook accounts easily (TechCrunch/Evelyn Rusli)  “Developer Eric Butler has exposed the soft underbelly of the web with his new Firefox extension, Firesheep, which will let you essentially eavesdrop on any open Wi-Fi network and capture users’ cookies. As Butler explains in his post, ‘As soon as anyone on the network visits an insecure website known to Firesheep, their name and photo will be displayed’ in the window. All you have to do is double click on their name and open sesame, you will be able to log into that user’s site with their credentials.”
  • Protection from FireSheep (ReadWriteWeb/Audrey Watters)   “Since Firesheep was released, there have been a number of countermeasures developed, ostensibly to warn if not protect users from potential side-jacking. Blacksheep, released earlier this week by Zscaler, generates ‘fake traffic’ then monitors the network to see if Firesheep is active. But Blacksheep warns you that it is, then what? Other than shutting off your notebook and perhaps relocating to a different cafe with free Wi-Fi, what are your options?”
  • Free WiFi should use “free” password (Ars Technica/Jacqui Cheng)  “…businesses that offer free WiFi to customers—such as Starbucks or hotels—are still putting everyone at risk of being sniffed and hacked by leaving their networks open. If those businesses were to simply lock their networks down (WPA2, of course) with the password of ‘free,’ then customers’ information would be much more secure and the world would be a happier place.”
  • Password doesn’t shear Firesheep (BoingBoing/Glenn Fleishman)  “Thus, you could defeat Firesheep today by assigning a shared key to a Wi-Fi network until the point at which some clever person simply grafts aircrack-ng into Firesheep to create an automated way to deauth clients, snatch their keys, and then perform the normal sheepshearing operations to grab tokens. […] The way around this is to use 802.1X, port-based access control, which uses a complicated system of allowing a client to connect to a network through a single port with just enough access to provide credentials.”

OPLIN Fact:
89% (645) of all Ohio public library buildings offer free public WiFi.

OPLIN 4Cast #197: RSS is dead, long live the Tweet?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

RSS sad faceThe October 1 demise of Bloglines that was announced a couple of weeks ago launched a raft of articles about the decline—or not—of RSS readers. Many libraries use RSS feeds from their websites to pass along news and announcements to their patron base. Some people now think that RSS feeds are being replaced by even shorter “feeds” from Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps the lesson here for libraries is to cover all your bases. Don’t depend on RSS alone to publish your news, and don’t ignore Facebook and Twitter.

  • Twitter has killed RSS readers (Business Insider/Henry Blodget) “RSS readers, the wave of the future a few years ago, are now basically toast, thanks largely (we think) to Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media (especially Twitter).”
  • Bloglines update (Ask Official Blog, 9/10/2010) “The Internet has undergone a major evolution. The real-time information RSS was so astute at delivering (primarily, blog feeds) is now gained through conversations, and consuming this information has become a social experience. […] Today RSS is the enabling technology — the infrastructure, the delivery system. RSS is a means to an end, not a consumer experience in and of itself. As a result, RSS aggregator usage has slowed significantly, and Bloglines isn’t the only service to feel the impact. The writing is on the wall.”
  • No, RSS is not dead (GigaOM/Mathew Ingram) “While Twitter may be more real-time —and built for consuming news in a way that relies on the principle that ‘if the news is important, it will find me’—there is still a place for moving outside of Twitter to look for alternative sources. In fact, many of the tweets with links that I wind up reading and saving come from either RSS itself (from people’s blogs published to Twitter) or via someone’s RSS reader.”
  • Saying “RSS is dead” is dead (TechCrunch/MG Siegler) “If I said ‘RSS’ to my mother, she would have absolutely no idea what I was talking about. If I said ‘Twitter’ or ‘Facebook’ to her, she knows who those are — she even uses them. That said, RSS does still often provide at least a partial backbone for those services she does know. For example, it’s RSS that auto-syndicates the content from TechCrunch to Twitter and Facebook where she reads it.”

Competing Facts:
Last February, Hitwise published data showing a significant decline in visits to Google Reader, but now Google has published their own data showing that the number of Reader users has been continuously increasing.

OPLIN 4Cast #161: Location-based services

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Location-based services are built into to many of our favorite online tools.  For example, with our mobile apps or GPS, we can find nearby restaurants, theaters, gas stations, etc.

The value of shared location data will depend on the quantity of people sharing and the quality of the location-aware updates.  Services such as Twitter, Loopt, Foursquare, Gowalla, Google and potentially Facebook will give everyone the opportunity to share what they know about their location so you can judge for yourself where you want to go next.

With that in mind, libraries will want to consider how this will impact them.  Do you participate?  Do you follow up on comments that were not in your favor?  Do you give incentives for people to visit?

Cool fact:
Location-based software has been used for the greater good in locating disaster survivors, during the Iranian election/debacle and on World Aids Day.

One such open-source product, Ushahidi, is there for disasters. “The Ushahidi engine is there for ‘everyday’ people to let the world know what is happening in their area during a crisis, emergency or other situation.” It brings “awareness, linking those in need to those who can assist, and providing the framework for better visualization of information graphically.”

OPLIN 4Cast#160: So you have a Twitter account…now what?

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

There are so many potential uses of Twitter for
libraries, and your patrons are already using it, so it’s a great medium to add to your marketing efforts.  It takes just a few sentences a day, so it doesn’t require much time to make a big impact.

The essence of Twitter is conversation. Libraries, unfortunately, seem to be using it as a broadcast system.  Instead, encourage your followers to interact with the library staff — ask followers questions, share interesting links, re-tweet interesting posts, and reply when people message you directly.  Learn from others’ Twitter posts.  Follow people who know about your interests.  Information sharing on Twitter is a two-way street.

The OPLIN staff was trying to come up with a list of Ohio public libraries that are on Facebook and Twitter this week.
Finding none, we created our own statewide directories.  If you would like to have your library added, please e-mail
support@oplin.org all of the relevant details.  Reminder:  Check the link later to see who has been added.

Cool fact from the 4Cast:
There may be psychology behind Twitter.  The Hierarchy Of Tweets – Analysing The Psychology of Twitter

OPLIN 4Cast #158: Reflecting and projecting

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009


Here, we sum up the last year and as a bonus, give you a glimpse of 2010.


Twitter isn’t going away, and 2009 seems to have set that in stone.  OPLIN follows a few libraries on Twitter, but it’s certain that we are missing some.  Follow us so we can follow you!  Twitter articles of interest:  2009 As Seen Through Twitter Hashtags and How Twitter Conquered the World in 2009.

Is your library on YouTube yet?  YouTube in 2009:  One Video That Ruled Them All

To sum up 2009 technology, here are the Best and Worst Tech Gadgets of 2009 from Business Week Magazine.

And now for 2010:

Cool fact from the 4Cast:
In summing up the past decade, the New York Times offered this:  Picturing the Past 10 Years.
Bonus link:  Care to guess the Single Most Innovative Product of the Decade?

OPLIN 4Cast #150: Big tech news & Halloween links

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

You’ve probably already heard the big tech news this week from the big vendors, such as the release of Windows 7, IE 8, and Droid.

With that in mind, and nothing else to report, we have compiled some fun examples of how Halloween has creeped its way into social media.failwhale-pumpkin