Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’

Open Graph Opens Up More Privacy Issues for Facebook

April 30, 2010

The week started on the weekend, with visions of Chuck Schumer talking about Facebook and privacy.  FB’s new initiative, Open Graph, which is an attempt to socialize the entire web, got good press from marketers and itself last week, but the privacy police were bound to get after what ReadWriteWeb referred to as FB’s “ambition…to kill off its competition and use 500 million users to take over the entire web.”  And lo and behold – I went to Pandora;  there was my Facebook photo, there were my friends and their stations.  Did I ask for this? – no, I did not; did I get to opt out (on Facebook’s home page)? – no I did not.  And because I did not opt out the first time I went on to Pandora after it got connected, I never got the opportunity again. Now, I admit that a lot of people are going to like (pun intended) this – the idea of being plugged into the things that your friends like is very appealing to Facebook users, or they probably wouldn’t be there in the first place, but it raises the creep alarm to me in a big way.  Here’s the insidious thing that Facebook is doing.  Ultimately, everyplace you go on the web, you will leave a little footprint (you are already doing that, but now it will stick around a lot longer than 24 hours), paving the way for lots more targeting than you’re already getting. If you want to opt out, you have to opt out on each individual site to which Facebook’s Open Graph connects, which, eventually will apparently be everything. By the way, if this is worrisome to you, Mashable has instructions on how to end instant personalization – it lies deep within the heart of your Facebook account, where you’d never otherwise know to go.    So Chuck Schumer and three other senators are calling for  the FTC to make sure that Facebook will  implement new controls that will make it easier for users to determine how much of their personal information is shared with other Web sites.

This is not the first time that Facebook has shown its oblivion to privacy issues – there was, for instance its ill-fated Beacon program of two years ago – in case you don’t remember , Beacon sent data from external web sites to users’ news feeds; its purpose was to allow targeted advertising and let users  share their activities with their friends.  Again, no opt out feature, and consumer outcry eventually shut it down.  Ken Auletta, in his book about Google, discussed the engineer mind-set, which is sort of like “Wow, this is cool – if we can just do THIS, then THIS will happen,” with very little thought about the actual implications of that coolness.  Most  people don’t think like engineers, though, and that’s where people like Mark Zuckerberg get into trouble.  In a twitter feed this week, Times writer Nick Bilton quoted a conversation with a Facebook employee who said that Mr. Zuckerberg does not believe in privacy.  I’ll buy that – it’s just not in his engineer’s lexicon. And, in an interview with TechCrunch’s founder earlier this year, Zuckerberg said that he did not think that privacy was the “social norm” any longer – “”People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.” While this is entirely true, largely due to Facebook itself, it is also true that people like to at the very least feel like they have some control over what they’re sharing, and with whom .

Whether the senators siccing the FTC on the social networking site will amount to anything remains to be seen – it will really be up to Facebook’s users to either prove or disprove Zuckerberg’s belief that we are all open to sharing our web surfing habits with everyone we know. And ultimately to marketers that we don’t know.

We will certainly be discussing this more, in terms of the initiative’s implications for brands, for marketers, and for the publishers of sites.


Facebook Takes Over the World

April 26, 2010

Facebook is making sure that it becomes the hub through which all web interaction flows.  This week, at the f8 conference, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his new plan, Open Graph, which will allow Facebook users to turn any web page into a Facebook page.  The idea is to tie all the individual social graphs around different Web properties into one larger whole – presumably the user’s Facebook page.  If you can “like” any page, any product, any thing on the web at all, that essentially turns the entire web into a social network.  Facebook also introduced a toolbar that publishers can put at the bottom of their page to provide what Facebook Director of Platform Product Bret Taylor called an “all-in-one social experience” packaging the “Like” button, Facebook chat and friend list information. If you are on a web page that is new to you, you can see which of your friends have already been there. So the Open Graph will function much like a Pandora of the whole web – it will be the online memory of everything you like and don’t like in music, books, movies, products, etc.  This is a very big thing.  For marketers, it’s really a boon, because it provides a more interactive experience between businesses and their customers.  Here’s an example from eMarketer :

…someone could visit, “Like” a football player participating in the NFL draft, and then receive a notification back from ESPN (via their Facebook news feed) alerting them to what happened to that person during the draft. In other words, the “Like” option takes a familiar Facebook activity—in this case, clicking a button to become a fan—and gives it a much more wide reaching effect, one that extends to a brand’s Website or anywhere a brand’s assets exist.

But here’s the rub, according to Time:

The company has more than 400 million users, and implementing the ‘Like’ functionality requires just a few lines of code. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing the buttons and your friends’ pictures everywhere you go on the Web.”  The possibilities for extremely targeted marketing are endless, but the privacy issue could be a sticking point for many who are already dubious about Facebook’s privacy practices, or lack thereof.  While the “Like” button acts as an opt-in, you aren’t really going to have a choice about what happens once you click it.

At much the same time that Facebook revealed that it was partnering with Microsoft for their new project, a web-based document editor enables  users to see, edit and share their written material with their Facebook friends.

So now, the whole web is your Facebook page, your documents are connected to your Facebook page – how about your clothing?  A new hoodie, called Ping, which is  still in the concept phase,  ais designed to allow the owner to customize gestures among friends. For example, the wearer might feel a tap on the shoulder when a comment is left on their Wall or be able to change a setting when a button is buttoned or zipper zipped. Says FastCompany – “Actions as simple as lifting or dropping the hood can be used to send status updates and messages on Facebook, with the potential to target certain groups of friends.”

With all this social media all over the place, literally, does the engagement that companies have with users really amount to anything?  Yes, says Nielsen (in a study with Facebook among Facebook users). The study found that ads with social media context, defined as “lightweight endorsements from friends displayed within the ad units,” increased ad recall by 1.6 times that of ads without the endorsements; increased brand awareness by 2.0 times; and increased purchase intent by an unspecified amount.

Presenting the iPad

April 2, 2010

The whole media world, it seems, was waiting for the iPad reviews to come out this week.  They were almost universally great. Walt Mossberg stopped just short of saying it was “magical and revolutionary” and even PC Magazine, that tecchie sceptic, had one review out of its several that was almost grudgingly positive. If you want to see a whole bunch of reviews side by side, here you go: Although many qualities have been attributed to the iPad, one to note is that it actually IS a laptop – it fits comfortably in your lap  and as Xeni Jardin from Boing Boing says, “It fits well in my lap for tweeting when eating during lunch break, and it’s easy to wipe off a stray mayo glop and get right back to updating the world on the details of my sandwich (using Twitterific for iPad, a free app which does what it promises on the tin).” Jardin also gives a description of the iPad version of the “Periodic Table of Elements”, which sounds, although you may not believe it, unbelievably cool.  Its creator, Theo Grey describes the experience thus: “The Elements on iPad is not a game, not an app, not a TV show. It’s a book. But it’s Harry Potter’s book. This is the version you check out from the Hogwarts library. Everything in it is alive in some way.”

It’s very early days in iPad development – so far most media sites are making themselves iPad ready by stripping out their Flash (which is not compatible). Different media will use it in different ways, and over time, you can envision the melding together of the different media in which a story can be told – book, movie, TV show —  and having them all in one package. Immediately, it will shine, compared to its greatest competition, as an e-book reader.  It’s in color for one thing, which means that the big problem with the Kindle as a text book reader has been eliminated.  And, as far as that competition is concerned, a study of anticipated purchase of e-book readers over the next 12 months showed that… well, here, see for yourself:

PriceGrabber E-reader survey

Of course one of the main reasons that the iPad will easily outpace the Kindle is that is more than just an e-book reader.  The PriceGrabber study also asked people what they would be using their real or imagined iPad for. Only 13% of 1,631 people interviewed said they would use it primarily as an e-reader. (more…)

The Buzz on Buzz – and a Reprimand from the FTC

March 19, 2010

During our hiatus, Google Buzz, Google’s foray into social media, came and went as hot news.  It got launched, people complained mightily about it, and while it’s still around, the buzz is gone. Google itself admitted that it didn’t test the thing enough, and the BBC reports that in fact the company only tested it internally before foisting it upon the public. The complaints were primarily that Buzz gave its 175 million mail users a ready-made circle of friends based on the people they most frequently e-mailed. Information was taken from their email contact lists without users’ consent or the ability to opt out.
By default, the lists of “followers” could be viewed by anyone who was looking at a user’s profile, which, of course is a privacy issue. Users also complained that the Buzz is “noisy,” with people who frequently post or who get a lot of comments dominating the “discussion.” The thing launched on February 9th, and by February 11th the privacy police were on its tail.  For any social network, the balance between connection and privacy is a precarious one, and Google came out on the wrong side of it. (more…)

The Heavens Opened and Thus the iPad Was Born

January 29, 2010

If you were somewhere in the Sahara this week, or living in the Beltway obsessing about the State of the Union Address, you probably didn’t know that the greatest boon to civilization since the invention of the wheel has come into our midst.  At long last, the mythologized Apple Tablet known as the iPad, has come, and we will all be the better for it.  While there was no way that it could possibly live up to the epic possibilities that were imagined about it, it’s possible that we actually will be the better for it eventually.  It’s also entirely possible that Jobs has again come up with something that will just about create a market. Practically everybody in the media world has an opinion about this device and I’ll link you to some of them. Such was the breathless anticipated build-up to this thing, that it would be impossible for tech writers not to experience some post-orgasmic tristesse, and there was a bit of moaning that it wasn’t quite the second coming.  Basically, in case you don’t know, the iPad is very much a large iPod Touch that will be, at certain price points, web-enabled via G3 networks.  Or should I say, a G3 network, namely AT&T’s (one great source of bitching and moaning at the unveiling of the thing). Now, the fact that it’s a sort of iPod Touch on steroids is not a bad thing at all.  I have one, and I think that the only thing that keeps it from being close to perfect is its lack of a G3 connection.  And, that it’s not a KitchenAid mixer, which from my point of view is the perfect machine.  But I digress. It is a media device – for all media.  It’s a video player.  It’s an e-reader.  It’s a computer. It’s an audio player.  It’s a breath mint.  So far, not so different from an iPod touch, or an iPhone, except that it has no phone or camera.

I said upfront that many are opining, or at least hoping, that it will save publishing.  Jobs has certainly been courting publishers, both book and periodical. (more…)

A Really Long Post of My Predictions for 2010

December 18, 2009

There is something inexorable about an idea whose time has come.  There are some ideas that take a very long way around, getting to acceptance.  But the march of technology has brought along with it a speeding up of history – changes that used to take hundreds of years are now occurring with greater rapidity.  There was a time in European history when the Catholic Church reigned supreme.  This reign brought forth the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and other shows of power.  Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of Wittenberg Church in 1517 in protest against the sale of papal indulgences, an act that, owing to the recent invention of the printing press, was spread throughout Germany in a matter of weeks, and that sparked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  The church and the heads of European state had so much to gain by the status quo (except for Henry VIII), however, that this idea whose time had come was still being fought over at least until the end of the 30 Years’ War in 1648.  End of history lesson. The point is, that I think that 2010 will be the pivotal year when Old Media, or what’s left of it, will stop fighting the idea whose time has come , the idea that started 10 years ago with the advent of Napster, and hopefully embrace it. I believe that this is the year when the two disparate streams of thought  – “information needs to be free” and “we need to make money” – finally begin to make some sort of peace.   And pay-walls will start to rise. (more…)

99 (Minus 89) Red Balloons

December 11, 2009

40 years ago, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency created Arpanet, which digitally connected Stanford and UCLA, making it the forerunner of the Internet.  To celebrate its anniversary, DARPA decided, in its researcherly way, to perform an experiment to see how well the Internet, crowdsourcing and social networking can solve what they call “broad-scope, time critical problems”, where trust is a big factor. To that end, last Saturday they planted ten big red weather balloons across the United States and offered $40K to the person or team that could find them all first.  The organization was hoping that the contest would “foster fresh thinking and encourage technologists to discover new, collaborative ways to approach problems that were not dreamt of 40 years ago.”  More than 900 submissions were sent in, representing over 4000 people.  Some of these teams developed iPhone apps, some searched Twitter, some offered money to others who could send in real information.  There were wikis and blogs and web sites and Facebook groups. Some just drove aimlessly around the country searching the skies. The search ended the next day, when the team from MIT was the first to locate all ten. The winning team used a combination of the above strategies by soliciting information from the public and paying for it in staggered amounts. Good, original leads were worth $4,000, corroboration was worth $2,000, and any remaining money was donated to charity. DARPA will be speaking with them and with other teams to find out what worked and what didn’t. Their press release ends with a quote:

 We need a renaissance of wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic. — E. Merrill Root

Vinyl Rises Again – a Bit

December 11, 2009

Unbelievably, there is some news coming out of the music industry that does not have to do with the RIAA suing its customers or the decline of CD sales. Something in the music industry is growing, and it’s not iTunes.  Vinyl is apparently making a comeback.  And with it, liner notes and cover art.  Granted, the market is almost infinitesimal compared with CD sales even now.  Nielsen SoundScan predicts that in 2009 2.8 million records (new ones, that is) will have been sold. Artists like Jack White, Flaming Kips, Metallica and Radiohead are shipping vinyl, albeit in small numbers.  Small labels are producing records with sleeves adorned with silk-screened cover art. They are hard to find and expensive to produce, since they’re not done in large quantities; a double album could cost $35. But it’s nice to know that some of the new generation is coming to appreciate the record, and if this picks up it could be easier to replace my turntable belt, the demise of which I dread every time I put needle to vinyl.(from Reuters)

Magazines All Join Hands

December 4, 2009

Meanwhile,  The New York Observer has details on the partnership between the magazine industry’s biggest players.  This partnership will be the one that creates the online newsstand which will prepare periodicals for readership across many platforms , not just the rumored Apple Tablet. Any of their products will be available to consumers through an iTunes-like format, and will give the publications some leverage against the platform holders (read Apple, Amazon, RIM, etc). The idea for this partnership came from John Squires, who stepped down from the EVP position at Time to become the interim exec of this company.  The idea, the Observer notes, ““He had this idea. These guys are all big competitors and now they’re laying down their arms to try figure this whole new world out together.”

Each magazine publisher now believes it’s too risky to go it alone to find new ways to get consumers to pay. If they all join together, the reasoning goes, they stand a better chance of producing greater revenue.”