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.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Online traffic

When it comes to various sectors of the internet industy many people fall behind with the trends - online traffic generation techniques are certainly no exception to this.

Online traffic generation is in its simplest form, online marketing. However in saying this, it can be a very involved process. This week on Insight we spoke to Chris Diprose about what online traffic generation actually is and how you can increase traffic on a webpage.

Most web pages use email, banner and search engine optimisation in order to boost hits on their pages - just like a corner store, without traffic through the doors the web page will cease to exist.

However in exciting news for the Australian Internet Industry, young Sydney based entrepeneur Leon Hill has created a new online traffic generation technique which bases itself around votes to get a page to appear on the front of social networking sites like Digg and also Yahoo and AOL.

For more information about Leon's creation check out

*Chirs is a Melbourne based web expert and works in digital consulting, design and marketing to clients across Australia.

produced by Alyce Woods

Monday, March 02, 2009

Mobile Tracking: To Be Seen, or Not To Be Seen

If you weren't already tired of hearing about your friends' every move via Facebook, well now you can track their every move, with a range of mobile tracking technology. With just one touch of a button, you can pin-point friends, family and workmates' exact locations anywhere in the world. However concerns have been voiced about potential misuse of the technology and the risks it poses to people's privacy.

Founder of the Australian-based MapMates service, Michael Rosbson admits the technology has the potential to be misused, but says it is bound to prove useful for many tech-savvy Australians.

"One of my teenage sons came home one Friday afternoon and jumped straight onto My Space and Facebook to find out what his friends were doing that night," he says.

"He started texting friends on his mobile, and half an hour later he had the information he needed. About ten minutes later his twin brother arrived home and did exactly the same thing. I thought there had to be an easier way to do this."

The technology works by using the GPS navigation system in users' mobile phones. Once two users have accepted each other as 'mates', they can view each other's most recently updated location through the application on their phone, or on the system provider's website.

Mr Robson says users can choose how often their location is updated, and can even specify when each friend is able to view their location.

"Users have complete control, and can make themselves invisible whenever they like," he says.

"My son lets me see where he is during the week, but then switches it off on the weekends."

Mr Robson's MapMates was designed with savvy Gen Y users in mind, but he believes the technology could prove useful to a much wider audience.

"There has been a lot of interest from parents who say they like to know where their kids are," he says.

"The technoloyg works all around the world, and is not dependant upon your phone or phone carrier, so a lot of backpackers are finding it very useful. Coorporations and emergency services are also using it to make sure their employees are safe."

However, lack of phone reception in remote areas does pose limitations for users in regional Australia. Mr Robson says while the GPS satellite component will continue to operate, the service requires phone reception to send the location data back to the server.

"When the phone is out of reception, the system will continue to save your location history," he says.

"You may not have had reception for an hour, but when you do come back into reception, all the information that you have tracked over that hour, will be sent up to the server."

While the services may bring peace of mind to concerned families, alarm bells have been raised about the potential misuse of this technology by parents, partners or bosses. Deakin University Communications lecturer and former CEO of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, Ross Monaghan, says these are valid concerns.

"One of my first concerns is the unintended consequences of people trying out these services, and not realising that friends and family can track them," he says.

"Also, if you're on the web, anyone can potentially track you. No systems are that secure."

According to Mr Monaghan, the same pitfalls of social networking sites are likely to afflict those using location services.

"Just becuase you take down a homepage doesn't necessarily mean that it disappears from the web forever," he says.

"We just have to trust the organisations that are keeping this data, that they are going to keep it safe as well."

Mr Monaghan says an increased dedication to privacy education by social networking sites and organisations is something he would like to see.

"We are finding younger people don't necessarily look at the long term implications of publishing private details online," he says.

"This sort of digital dirt, whether it's on your Facebook page, in texts, photos, or being able to track you from one location to the next, it's something everyone really needs to be conscious of."

Despite the potential threats this technolgoy poses to people's privacy, Mr Robson believes the prospect of these systems to save lives, is worth the risk.

"Anything can be abused and misused," he says.

"This has the potential to be misused, but it also has the potential to save lives and be an extremely valuable tool.

"The day that someone's life is saved because we have been able to find somebody who has been injured or hurt, that will make it all worth while.

So is the public ready for mobile tracking? Or does it really present an invasion of privacy that is simply too great?

"I think there is a way to go before individuals will see any reason to be able to be tracked," Mr Monaghan says.

"It's too early to say that these services won't be adopted, but I think as people see the personal and business uses for them, the technology will become more and more popular."

produced by Anna McManamey