Monday, March 30, 2009

Recent news in Social Media

Find friends on Fire

Yahoo has created a new Facebook application to compete with Google’s location service, Google Latitude.

The new application, called Friends on Fire, allows the user to share their location with their Facebook friends.

Friends on Fire utilises Yahoo’s Fire Eagle service, which shares your location information with specified applications, which in this case is Facebook.

Besides the new Facebook application, Yahoo has also released a Firefox plug-in for the Fire Eagle service which uses nearby wireless networks to calculate the location of the computer.

Like Google Latitude, the security measures Fire Eagle uses are a big factor. Many critics are concerned about people’s location information getting into the wrong hands.

Google Latitude has a pop-up feature which reminds users that they have the tracking software turned on and Fire Eagle’s Friends on Fire application allows users to specify how much detail about their location they want to give away, which can range from just displaying their country right through to the precise location.

Unlike Google Latitude, Friends on Fire is not available on mobile phones as of yet but the Fire Eagle leader, Tom Coates, confirmed that the company is currently developing a mobile version of the application.

Mark Zuckerberg Millionaire?

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has been dropped from the Forbes magazine annual list of billionaires.

A net worth of $1.5billion was attributed to the 24-year-old web whiz-kid in last year’s list, now the youngest self-made billionaire is conspicuously absent.

Questions have been raised about Zuckerberg’s initial inclusion on the list last year as the figure was based on an assumed wealth calculated by various assumptions including Microsoft’s decision to purchase a $240million chunk of the company in 2007.

Although Zuckerberg's shafting from the rich list has been seen by some as proof that the economic downturn has burst the social networking bubble. A study from Forrester Research has indicated that the economic slump may actually increase commercial interest in social media as it is an inexpensive option for companies wanting to advertise.

Although using marketing on social networking sites is still in its experimental stages. 53 percent of the marketers surveyed in Forrester's research said they were set to increase spending on social media and only 5 percent said they would decrease spending. The other 42 percent said they would continue to spend the same amount.

Face court via Facebook

The New Zealand High Court has allowed a court summons to be delivered via Facebook. This follows a similar decision by the Australian Supreme Court last December to send a default judgement to two defendants who had failed to appear in court.

The defandant in the New Zealand case, Craig Axe, has been accused of taking NZ$241,000 from his father's market garden business. The plaintiff's lawyer, Daniel Vincent said that all other means of communication had been tried and as the accused was known to have a Facebook page it was seen as the next best option.

Axe is believed to be living in the UK but his exact location is unknown. The money was allegedly taken from his father's account via the internet when the defandant was in Britain.

Add a blog for Ada

A former executive director of the Open Rights Group, Suw Charman-Anderson, is trying to create new female role models who work in technology with the hope that it may inspire other women to get involved.

To make people aware of the achievements of women in technology, Charman-Anderson has established Ada Lovelace Day, on 24th March where people from all around the world pledge that they will write a blog or create another piece of online media about a notable female working in technology.

The event is named after the little known Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Bryon, who wrote the first computer program in the Victorian Era for Charles Babbage’s precursor to the computer, the Analytical Engine.

Charman-Anderson established the event after hearing of research from psychologist Penelope Lockwood that indicated that women need female role models more than man need male ones.

"Let’s come together to highlight the women in technology that we look up to. Let’s create new role models and make sure that whenever the question 'Who are the leading women in tech?' is asked, that we all have a list of candidates on the tips of our tongues." Charman-Anderson writes on

Despite many attempts to address the imbalance women are still in the minority in the IT industry despite their high level of technology usage.

In Australia the number of women enrolled in IT courses dropped to 20 percent in 2005 and the number continues to decrease.

One way of increasing the number of women in the industry, is to get them started at a school level.

According to Denise Huender, an IT teacher at an all-girls high school in NSW, the reason many girls are reluctant to choose IT is because they perceive it as something that "only boys do".

"You still have to get past this point where they think it's all about spreadsheets and uninteresting stuff," Mrs Huender said "one of the units we do with the girls in year nine is programming, but we create a platform game that uses a simply program that appeals to their creativity. With a game like this they don't even know they are programming. They love it."

It seems fitting that blogging is being used for the Ada Lovelace Day initiative, as online social media is particularly popular with women. Social networking, especially, is one of the most common online activities by women.

Marjorie Kibby, a lecturer in film and cultural studies at the University of Newcastle, says that women use technology differently to men.

"Women are generally more task orientated (when they use the internet), they find something they want to do and they work out how to do it. They also like to use the internet for communication more than men do," Ms Kibby said.

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