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Posts Tagged ‘web’

Is the web really dead?

17 Aug
Wired uses this graph to illustrate Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff's claim that the world wide web is "dead." ff_webrip_chart2.jpg Their feature, The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet, is live at Wired's own website. Without commenting on the article's argument, I nonetheless found this graph immediately suspect, because it doesn't account for the increase in internet traffic over the same period. The use of proportion of the total as the vertical axis instead of the actual total is a interesting editorial choice.

You can probably guess that total use increases so rapidly that the web is not declining at all. Perhaps you have something like this in mind:

graph2.jpg

In fact, between 1995 and 2006, the total amount of web traffic went from about 10 terabytes a month to 1,000,000 terabytes (or 1 exabyte). According to Cisco, the same source Wired used for its projections, total internet traffic rose then from about 1 exabyte to 7 exabytes between 2005 and 2010.

So with actual total traffic as the vertical axis, the graph would look more like this.

3.jpg

Clearly on its last legs!

Assuming that this crudely renormalized graph is at all accurate, it doesn't even seem to be the case that the web's ongoing growth has slowed. It's rather been joined by even more explosive growth in file-sharing and video, which is often embedded in the web in any case.

Update: It's also worth adding that bandwidth, though an interesting measure of the internet's growth, isn't so good for measuring consumption. It doesn't map to time spent, work done, money invested, wealth yielded... Does 50MB of YouTube kitteh represent more meaningful growth than a 5MB Wired feature? And, as others point out in the comments, many of the new trends are still reliant on the web to work, especially social networking.



 
 

What Identities Are We Using to Sign in Around the Web? [INFOGRAPHIC]

07 Jul

The days of having a separate login and password for each online service we use are behind us. Now, you can log into most sites and services using your social network’s ID.

The most popular social identities are Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Twitter, but are they always being used in the same way? The infographic below, courtesy of social optimization platform Gigya, shows that users trust different identities on different services. For example, users are most likely to log on to entertainment sites via Facebook, but when it comes to news sites, the login of choice is Twitter. Furthermore, the infographic shows what profile data is available to services after users log in using various online identities.

Check out a bigger version of the infographic here.



Reviews: Facebook, Google, Twitter

More About: facebook, gigya, Google, online identity, social networking, twitter, Yahoo

For more Social Media coverage:


 

My Favorite Web Applications for Designers

17 Jun

As we all know, there are many web tools available to designers online, so instead of listing ALL of them, I've decided to share my favorites that I use on an everyday basis. FYI, this doesn't include mac apps or programs, just online web tools and a couple of firefox plug-ins. Enjoy!

 
 

How to Execute (Against) Your Resume

15 Oct

Anyone who has pried opinions out of me (or seen my eyes glaze over) knows that I admire simple, clear language and despise buzzwords and jargon. Well, at a recent New York event , the wine entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk said one of the smartest and simplest things I have heard about incorporating emerging social tools into your life: “Execute against yourself.”

Sounds strange, right? But according to Gary and the people he was sharing the stage with, Julia Allison and Loren Feldman, you must first have a core business, purpose, or mission, and only then can you enhance that core using peripheral social tools for marketing and other purposes. As Gary puts it, “Content is King. But marketing is Queen, and she rules the house.”

Execute your resume

My personal “core” is using a scientific background to devise analytical approaches to strategic problems. But in the last six months or so I have developed a modest expertise with emerging social technologies that in principle can stand on its own. And so, logically, I have been thinking about how to display this newfound experience with social tools on my resume, given that I work largely in an area where those skills are peripheral but perhaps important to the main tasks. Are they computer skills? People skills? A relevant hobby?

With traditional media gatekeepers becoming decreasingly influential, it seems like everyone who is tech savvy is laying the groundwork for online personal and business branding. And I have heard more than once that “Google is the new resume.” You are your search results as far as anyone is concerned. So, someone could reasonably argue that the resume as we know it is dead. Resume, R.I.P.

Execute against your resume

But I say, long live the resume. Because simply saying that “Google is the new resume” is not entirely true. And here I disagree with authorities like author Brian Solis. Traditional careers like doctor, lawyer, scientist, architect, and so forth are not going anywhere. Even as social software tools become pervasive in society, people in such careers will simply figure out how to best add them (or not) into their work to add value. They will not entirely restructure how they carry out their lives; they will use them to enhance their existing lives. In Gary Vaynerchuk’s terminology, they will “execute against themselves.”

Hip to be elite

My strong suspicion is that people who travel in elite circles (went to Yale, had a Fulbright, worked at McKinsey) will not rely on event attendance and microblogging to sell themselves. At the same time, this does not mean that they cannot leverage social tools for their advantage. To the contrary, I predict that hip digital immigrants will gradually develop more powerful online presences than digital natives once they maximize the effect of combining old-school strengths with new media strategies.

So, if you are a handsome chef, a starving artist, a club promoter, or a professional blogger – maybe resumes are dead and you can rely on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter and other sites to entirely promote your brand. But to the rest of the world, I say: long live the resume.

Dr. Mark Drapeau is an Associate Research Fellow studying Social Software for Security (S3) at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy of the National Defense University in Washington DC. These views are his own and not the official policy or position of any part of the U.S. Government. Email: markd [at] mashable.com

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Posted in Web 2.0

 

Obama iPhone App Provides Platform for Supporters

02 Oct

I don’t know how accurate it is to say Senator Barack Obama is a Mac to Senator John McCain’s PC, but those convinced of this premise will either delight in or scorn the fact that the Obama for America campaign has presented a free iPhone and iPod touch-compatible application called Obama ’08 [iTunes URL] for supporters to use.

Having browsed the application myself, I can tell you that the experience is commendable. The 1MB download is thoroughly polished, and covers nearly everything its larger relative, BarackObama.com has to offer. Technically speaking, the development is appreciable.

Though it does not harbor a connection to the social network My.BarackObama.com, the application is, design-wise, very much in line with the campaign website. No question about that. But how it functions is far more noteworthy. If you wish to read news highlighted by campaign operatives, you can do so, with the option to specify a national or local view. If you want to browse photos and videos, you may. Events are posted, too, and the campaign’s stated issues and its positions on those issues are noted in full. (Nearly all of these items can be emailed at will.)

You can also sign up to receive email and/or SMS notifications, and call anyone within your phone’s contact list, with each noted as “have not called” until you connect with them. This is obviously meant to increase outreach. (Placing calls is of course not possible with an iPod touch.)

Digging into the menu is easy enough. There’s really no trouble to be had with navigation. You can never go deep enough to get lost, to be honest. Which is just as well, because it’s an application for a political campaign, after all. There’s only so much a user can do given the matter at hand.

Nonetheless, there are some issues to be had. Browsing media isn’t handled the best way possible. For one, it would of course be a great convenience to see video playback within the application itself, but interacting with titles simply brings you out of the Obama ’08 application and over to the device’s YouTube application. This wouldn’t be something to nitpick over, but when you do venture out of the latter piece of software and back to the Obama ’08 application, you’re shown the start page once more, not the menu of videos from where you originally departed.

On the photography side of things, the supply of images is all but useless. Not because the content or presentation of individual photos doesn’t satisfy, but rather because the sheer number that is uploaded on any given day hardly makes it worth your while. The menu only allows for twenty images to be viewed, and my own time spent with the application today has shown nothing but photos titled “YouthVoteSurrogatePic….” This is not something to enjoy with any measure of frequency, that’s for sure.

Be that as it may, visual media is not the main draw here. It’s more about what the campaign is doing now and in the next few weeks leading up to Election Day, not a compendium of the last year and a half of canvassing that’s been done. For that, it will likely suffice for most users. You might not enjoy having a ‘Donate’ button that simply shows a translucent pop-up asking you to connect by phone to a campaign representative. Nor will some users like that you can only call contacts, and not send them email or SMS messages. Still, it is for the most part a solid collection of information pertaining to the Democratic ticket, making it enough of a download for iPhone-wielding Obama supporters to draw interest in.

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Posted in Politics

 

Government 2.0: Where’s the Urgency?

01 Oct

This is part of an ongoing series about government 2.0 written by Dr. Mark Drapeau. To view previous posts in the series click here.

Recently I had the chance to attend an event called “Government 2.0 and Beyond… Harnessing Collective Intelligence,” which was hosted by the Department of Defense’s Information Resources Management College (IRMC). It had all the makings of a public relations boon: High-profile speakers like David Weinberger (who blogged from the event), corporate sponsorship, media coverage, and a new auditorium to show off. Alvin Toffler, the author of Future Shock, was even there. But what I didn’t see among the people in the room was urgency.

Much lip service was given to welcoming new technologies, openness, information sharing, transparency, and collaboration. But there was no talk of a strategy, a plan, or a roadmap. Frankly, there was no talk of anything concrete in the way of actual progress towards Government 2.0, as the title of the event would lead one to believe. And while I am certain that DOD Deputy CIO David Wennergren was genuine when he spoke about the future of command and control being a more agile system of “focus and converge,” I am also certain that people in my workplace have Dell laptops so old they have time for a power nap during boot up.

This is particularly embarrassing given that one of the speakers, Bruce Klein talked in detail about Cisco Connect, their “next-generation workforce environment” that includes an encyclopedia, feeds, blogs, chat, and virtual meetings. No one discussed why the Department of Defense didn’t have this capability, and no one asked. More embarrassing still, Cisco Connect is very similar in principle to something the government already has – the Intelligence Community-built INTELINK, that I have used and written about before; the word “INTELINK” was never uttered out loud.

As the event was winding down, I heard a line not unfamiliar to me at this point, about everyone in the room being an “agent of change” that had to help. I became a bit frustrated with this and Tweeted the following:

While it’s probably inappropriate to “benchmark our enemies” in a Mashable post, I think it’s safe to say that terrorist and criminal organizations don’t need pep talks in wood-paneled conference rooms to adopt new technologies and gain a competitive edge. In the battle of bloviating versus trial-and-error, who wins?

One of the panelists, the co-author of Wikinomics, Anthony Williams, quipped that “The Ontario Government blocked Facebook, so everyone moved to MySpace. It’s a futile exercise.” Many people in the audience snickered. I don’t know about them, but I still can’t access MySpace or YouTube from my work computer. This is not a complicated multinational treaty negotiation. If everyone is so aware of the problem, why can’t we just… fix it?

To be fair, the government has non-trivial security issues when it comes to information systems – they must function alone and with each other properly, cannot be infiltrated by outsiders, and they must provide trustworthy information (imagine hacking not to plant a computer virus, but rather false intelligence or misleading geographic coordinates). The big takeaway that federal officials had from DEFCON 16 in Las Vegas was that social software has created a “perfect storm” for hackers – lots of new software, largely untested security loopholes, and a changing definition of privacy in society. As part of my Social Software for Security (S3) research project at the National Defense University I am working with government “information assurance” professionals to determine which social technologies are {always, sometimes, never} safe to use with DOD systems.

Unfortunately, all of this is likely discouraging young people – digital natives, or the Gartner-dubbed “Generation V” – from choosing honorable work in public service as a profession, and it is encouraging bright people already in Washington, DC to move on to greener pastures. It may be appropriate that a group named “Foreigner” wrote the song I quoted at the beginning of this article, because from my standpoint “urgency” as it concerns adoption of social technology tools into the defense establishment is thus far largely a foreign concept.

Dr. Mark Drapeau is an Associate Research Fellow at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy of the National Defense University in Washington, DC. These views are his own and not the official policy or position of any part of the U.S. Government.

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UK Politicians Seek To Legislate Against YouTube Violence
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Posted in Web 2.0

 

How to Connect Your Email Address to Your OpenID Account

30 Sep

OpenID is an excellent solution for establishing a single identity for all your online accounts, but many people haven’t even tried it yet. For some, the concept of using a URL address for a login ID instead of the traditional email address is still completely foreign.

However, Email to ID could be what the doctor ordered and what these creatures of habits need. It could also be what OpenID needs in order to expedite wide-spread acceptance as the single sign-on identity standard. You can now link your email address (or several of them) to your OpenID and then use that email address (any of them) to log into any online service that supports it! The beauty rests in the simplicity of it all. Best of all, it’s all free and easy to do.

First, a little background information on this process

Email to ID is based on the EAUT (Email Address to URL Translation) protocol that allows standard email addresses to be transformed into URLs for services like OpenID. As far as concerns regarding security and who controls everything, EAUT was designed to work in a distributed fashion, so that there isn’t a single authority in charge of everything. Each email service controls how email addresses at their domain are resolved into URLs. 

Even though EAUT is designed to be decentralized, it will take time for email providers to add support. In these cases, a fallback service can be used, which can translate ANY email address to a URL. Relying parties can use any fallback service they wish, but Email to ID is recommended.  The need for a fallback service will decrease as more email providers support EAUT natively. 

Why a fallback service like Email to ID?

Emailtoid was designed as a technology prototype to act as a temporary solution to a usability problem in OpenID. Email to ID always defers to the email providers first and only falls back to the local resolution service if the email provider does not support email-to-OpenID resolution. 

What’s important for Email to ID’s long-term Success?

There are a couple of things that need to happen in order for Email to ID to become a normal part of our online experience. First, OpenID needs to formally and officially support the EAUT protocol. Second, all email providers need to get on board and support OpenID and EAUT. It’s not only good for their members but for them as well, so it’s really a no-brainer. The same is true for all online services and their stance regarding OpenID support - the more services that embrace OpenID, the better for us all.

How to do it

Here’s how easy it is to connect your email address with your OpenID account. It literally takes a couple of minutes. When completed we will show you how to use it with a site that supports EAUT such as Magnolia.
 

1. First, you’ll need an OpenID account. You might already have one because many services like AIM and LiveJournal include an OpenID for members. You can check here. If you don’t already own one then just create one from any of the official OpenID providers on that page. Popular providers include ClaimIDmyOpenIDmyVidoopmyID.net and VeriSign’s Personal Identity Provider

2. Go to Email to ID and add your OpenID account along with the email address you want to associate with it. You can add multiple addresses if you want. You’ll receive an email with an access key you can enter to complete the connection or you can simply click the link in the email. Either way works fine.

That’s it, really. It’s that easy. Enter the email address and OpenID account and they’ll be connected. You can just as easily disconnect them or add another email address or change the OpenID provider should you want to do so. It’s very flexible and puts you in control.

How to use your new email to ID account on a service

Now that you’ve linked your email address with your OpenID account, you can use your familiar email address on any site that supports it. In this example, we’ll use the popular social bookmarking service, Magnolia.

1. Go to the Magnolia sign in page and enter your email address in the OpenID box instead of the usual OpenID URL. 

2. You’ll be redirected to a confirmation page on your OpenID provider’s site. Click continue to complete the transaction. 

3. That’s it. You’re done. No need to enter tedious profile information or even a password. Just create the screen name you want and the email address and you’re done with the sign-up process in a fraction of the time that it usually takes. Email to ID and OpenID handles all of the dirty work for you.

Final thoughts

You’ve just gotten a glimpse of what could very well be the future of online registration thanks to the OpenID single sign on identity system along with the Email to ID URL translation based on the EAUT protocol. As mentioned earlier, in order for this much improved process to become a common standard and available everywhere online, more services need to support OpenID and EAUT. The good news is that increasing new services are in fact supporting OpenID. To keep up with all of the new additions to this list go to the OpenID Directory or subscribe to its RSS feed which updates constantly.

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Is the Enterprise Ready for Microblogging Tools like Twitter?

30 Sep

By Aaron Strout and Joe Cascio

Although experts in the social media space have been talking about how businesses might adopt microblogging tools like Twitter and Plurk, only recently have we started to see a series of new vendors cropping up in the enterprise microblogging space. This has been due in part to businesses needing to figure out how Twitter can benefit the enterprise. The fact that the mainstream press has started covering this topic has also helped to push things along (see Businessweek’s CEO Guide to Microblogging if you need proof).

Given the recent focus on business microblogging and the emergence of some new players like Yammer and Utterli (Formerly Utterz, Utterli has been around for a little over a year but just rebranded and is now becoming more enterprise-centric), it felt like as good a time as any to write a post about the business value of microsharing within the enterprise. Included in this post will be considerations for implementing microblogging and a few of the relevant players in the space.

Just to level set, it probably doesn’t hurt to define what microblogging is. For anyone that uses Twitter, Plurk, Identi.ca or any of the multiple other microblogging tools, microblogging is in some ways like instant messaging or text messaging but instead of it taking place one to one, it’s often one to many or many to many. I could take this entire post explaining what it is, but friend and Commoncraft founder, Lee LeFever, has done a fantastic job in his quick Twitter in Plain English video. I’d also like to clarify that this post is focused on businesses using microblogging within their organization vs. having a corporate presence in the public (like @comcastcares on Twitter). How corporations are using microblogging publicly is an equally relevant topic, however, numerous posts have already covered this phenomena.

Business Value

One of the lessons we learned from Web 1.0 (and the subsequent bubble) was the fact that startups that create technologies in search of a problem fail, even when VCs are stupid enough to throw wads of cash at them. This time around, most companies don’t get funded unless they are solving a business problem or at least offering up a technology that can enhance existing business processes. To that end, here are a few ways companies can tap into the power of microblogging:

Emergency Broadcast System: First and foremost, any company needs a way to reach all of its employees quickly and efficiently. E-mail is obviously one way to do this but increasingly, it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. With many folks receiving hundreds of e-mails a day, it can take minutes if not hours before we get to an e-mail from the CEO.

Knowledge Management: Here’s where things get interesting. One of the biggest failings of many companies is the fact that they trap their intellectual property in Powerpoints, spreadsheets and Word documents and store them on shared drives and e-mail inboxes. Once the creator of that content walks out the door, the odds of their years of work finding its way into anyone else’s life are slim. As companies start uploading more and more content onto wikis, or central file repositories, these files can be linked to and indexed by conversational tools like microblogs.

Training: Any company that has gone on a hiring binge quickly realizes how painful it is to train new employees. If a formal training program exists, the materials are often outdated almost as soon as they are created. By identifying a few key influencers and allowing new employees to see their daily “streaming,” information and best practices can be shared more easily and in real time with little burden on the “trainer.”

Expert Identification: Another area that many larger companies fall down is in making their resident experts easily findable. If you can see your company’s employees talking (possibly segmented by business unit or group within an organization), it wouldn’t take long to figure out who knows what about whom.

Seeing the Connectors: Good companies spend a lot of time on succession planning. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have a good handle on who the true connectors are within their organization. By analyzing conversations and watching the conversations of employees, senior managers can easily identify who these connectors are and then ensure these employees compensation and titles match their internal value AND start to add additional connectors if too much information is flowing through any one individual.

Inclusion of External Stakeholders: Back in the early 2000’s, extranets were all the rage. There would finally be a way for companies to include partners, investors and even certain customers in their daily conversations. Portals obviously began to fill this roll to a degree but none were ever truly conversational. Enter enterprise microblogging with the ability to include these aforementioned stakeholders in the mix.

Key Considerations

Enterprises considering microblogging as an internal function will have some common requirements. Here is our take on several areas that corporations tend to look at when they are considering a new technology:

Single Sign-On (SSO): A growing problem in the social media world right now is identity proliferation. With some notable exceptions that accept OpenID, most sites still require you to create yet another account in their system (or identity domain). In most enterprises, a fair amount of effort has already been expended on establishing single sign-on through the intranets’ LDAP registry. It would be highly desirable to leverage this capability to enroll employees in the microblogging system. So, an enterprise microblogging solution must have flexibility in adapting to existing ID and sign-on registries.

Reliability: Initially, microblogging may seem like a non-essential, nice-to-have kind of tool, but our bet is that most businesses will find it very quickly becomes indispensable for keeping important lines of communication open. People, on their own, will invent many different uses for such a simple tool, as they have with Twitter. In a large corporation with geographically distributed sites, it would be best to have a solution that allows each campus to run its own server and not be dependent on a remote centralized service. These distributed servers would exchange data to unify the system as a whole. See Distribution below.

Analytics: Businesses will eventually want to analyze the traffic on their microblogging sites. They’ll want to know who follows who, who posts the most and to who and most importantly, a feature I’d love to have in Twitter, the ability to see and search all my posts and other posts selectively for important information, just like we can search our G-mail accounts now.

Security:This will probably be of paramount concern at least initially in most businesses. Most corporations are very aware of keeping internal communications safe from prying outside eyes. An enterprise microblogging solution must provide for fine-grained authorization and trustworthy security of communications. Management, through the IT department will want to be able to restrict who can see certain posts.

Scalability: The word Enterprise covers a huge spectrum of organizations. An enterprise microblogging solution should be scalable from less than 100 users to tens or even hundreds of thousands of users, spread across the globe. The ability to distribute and federate many local servers on the corporate intranet will help to satisfy this need.

Groups: Enterprises comprise many different groups within their walls. Not just departments, but project teams, ad hoc working groups, common interests, etc. An enterprise microblogging solution must provide for the easy definition of groups or tags, where any employee user can belong to many groups.

Distribution: This requirement has been touched on already, but it should be mentioned again because of its importance to other requirements. It refers to the ability of the enterprise microblogging solution to be decentralized, spread out across wide geographic areas, and hence to become fault tolerant, so the failure of any one node does not cause a failure of the whole system.

Interoperability: Clearly a distributable enterprise microblogging solution would require its various nodes to federate and interoperate, but a corporation wishing to allow interaction with its customer base outside its walls would require a solution that interoperates with other microblogging solutions that may exist, yet allows only some posts to be seen outside the corporate firewall.

Current Players

Until recently, most vendors in the community or social media space have either focused on delivering microblogging tools to the public while software providers that focused on the enterprise tools busied themselves with delivering better wikis and other collaboration tools. Not anymore. A slew of startups (and one or two more tenured companies) have now turned their attention to the less sexy but immediately more profitable enterprise microblogging space. Below you will find a list of some of the major players in this space along with a quick description, pros and cons of each. If we’ve missed a player, please feel free to add to the comments and we’ll strongly consider adding them into this post:

Yammer (from TradeVibes) Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: “What are you working on?”

PROS: Easy to turn on and screens out folks outside of the corporate domain. These guys have obviously learned a thing or two from where some of the existing microblogging tools fall down.

CONS: No single sign-on functionality (at least not that we could see). Tricky to add other “partners/contractors” that don’t have e-mail addresses matching the corporate domain. Hosted by outside company, can’t be deployed inside the firewall.

Laconi.ca (from Wikipedia) An open source microblogging tool written in PHP that implements the OpenMicroBlogging standard. Laconica was created as an open source, distributed alternative to Twitter, and was originally used by the identi.ca microblogging service.

PROS: Built on opensource software so it’s completely customizable. It also integrates with well-known Twitter client, Twhirl giving power users the ability to manage external and internal facing microblogging activity in a seemless fashion. It is based on the Open Microblogging protocol specification, so other implementations are possible.

CONS: As is the case with any opensource application, its greatest asset (flexibility) is also its biggest weakness (not super user-friendly out of the box). Scaling, federation and interoperation have yet to be seriously tested.

Utterli (from Utterli.com) Utterli helps you create and follow discussions with friends or new people with similar interests. You can create or join a discussion from any mobile phone or computer. Utters are cool because they can be audio, video, pictures and text, and it’s really easy to post to your other online profile pages.

PROS: Utterli’s two biggest strengths are easily its multi-media and mobile capabilities. It’s fairly easy to create a “group” on the fly and coming soon will be enterprise-friendly SSO and security capabilities. Stay tuned for more on this front.

CONS: The least “Twitter-like” out of any of the existing enterprise microbloggers. We’re not completely sure that’s actually a weakness.

Existing enterprise players like Jive , Awareness , Mzinga * and Drupal

PROS: These guys are in the business of working with enterprises and catering to their needs. Don’t be surprised to see some of these players (if they aren’t thinking about it already) jump into this game in the next 3-6 months. If and when they do, they will be forces to be reckoned with.

CONS: While none of the existing community providers are actively touting an enterprise microblogging tool, it wouldn’t be a stretch for any of them to create one based on existing tools. The fact that they haven’t created one yet does put them at a slight disadvantage on the learning curve.

Will They or Won’t They

As the corporate adoption of microblogging tools like Twitter continues to increase, it’s only a matter of time before companies decide that there is something there worth exploring. Well-known startups like Mahalo have a 50% adoption rate of Yammer. Companies like IBM are using similar functionality on their Facebook-like internal communities. With so many potential benefits, why wouldn’t a company want to give this a try?

About the authors:

AARON: As Vice President of Social Media at Mzinga, Aaron Strout focuses on creating business value for Mzinga through viral marketing channels, including blogs, podcasts, twitter, and speaking engagements.

JOE: Joe Cascio is an independent software developer turned “social media enthusiast.” Joe is also the chief developer of an experimental social media identity site called SociaLogic.org. His “biggest” current interest, however, is Distributed Microblogging (i.e., Twitter). Joe maintains a blog as JoeCascio.net and you can follow him on Twitter here.

*In full disclosure, I work for Mzinga as the VP of Social Media.

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Student of Fortune is Like eBay for Homework

15 Sep


Student of Fortune
is not a joke or a scam. They’re a service that claims to be the eBay for homework and compares themselves to Yahoo Answers. However, there is a big difference between Yahoo Answers and Student of Fortune. Namely, money. People are actually making good money answering tough questions from students all over the globe.

If You Ask it They Will Answer
The heart of the service is the Post a Question form. This is where students post whatever tough question or homework assignment they have and the amount of money they are willing to pay for the answer. Eventually, if someone out there has the answer, the transaction is completed and the student gets their answer and the person who provided the information gets paid by Student of Fortune, which acts as the broker.

Knowledge is Cash
Many people, known as tutors, are generating decent revenue by simply selling the same answers repeatedly over and over again. They usually pick a topic that they’re proficient in and cover all questions in that subject matter.

There’s even a leaderboard that tracks those who’ve made the most money on the site.

Learning vs Earning
So who benefits the most from this site? Is it the student that actually learns the answers to their questions and completes their homework assignment instead of flunking it? Or is it the one that provides the answer and earns compensation for their effort? Or is it the service itself? What about everyone involved?

Here’s more information from an interview by Aaron Novak from Stickam at our SummerMash LA event.

Final Exam
Some people out there will undoubtedly have problems with this service and what it does. Some will question how ethical it is to allow students to “cheat” and pay someone to do their dirty work. Others will think it’s a good example of true American ingenuity.

What do you think? Is it right for students to buy answers this way? Please share your thoughts in the comments area. No, we will not pay you for that! ;)

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What Would You Say to Bush, McCain, or Obama?

13 Sep

What Would You Say To The President is an eminently simple invention, whose purpose is mostly just to reserve a place for messages addressed to the political names that either currently reside in the White House or might reside there in several months’ time.

Seeing as how we are less than two months away from the U.S. presidential election in November, you may well consider it worth a brief account registration (or OpenID login) to leave the sitting executive or his potential successor a note or a perhaps even a video memo denoting a personal though, civic-minded or otherwise.

There are some extras to browse in addition to the central post roll, from news delivered  by way of the current administration and blogs covering odd bits of information with close or peripheral relevance to the CinC. Or, within the places established for Democratic nominee Barack Obama and Republican nominee John McCain, news and blogs pertaining to their campaigns for office. Altogether, however, the website makes for a quick visit, and so far the content presented by users is readable insofar as political discourse is concerned. Rhetoric of all sorts is in evidence, but nothing profane.

The aspect most appreciable is its singular purpose, which is to offer a slate on which to write, in short or at length. Jason Brown of WWYSTTP tells Mashable that messages will be delivered according to their intended recipients; Dana Perino, White House Press Secretary, or the Republican or Democratic nominees. Make of this pledge what you will.

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