Monday, August 31, 2009

Teens Do Tweet - but it's still lame, sorta.

At long last there appears to be a definitive examination of teens' opinions and use of Twitter. In several mainstream articles published recently (like this one) and in at least one post here (like this one) we have all been, apparently, much too quick to write off the teen Twitter market based on either flawed data or misinterpreted anecdotes.

Geoff Cook, co-founder and CEO of MyYearbook has an article over at TechCrunch that presents the results of a survey of more than 10,000 teens between the ages of 13 and 17 with an eye toward adding something new to the answer. It turns out the questions asked were flawed. Says Cook:
"To date, reasons given for the alleged aversion of teens to Twitter have ranged from the condescending “Because they have nothing to say,” to the responsible “Because it doesn’t feel safe,” to the Letterman-like “Because they can’t afford it” — at least without a mobile data plan."

"Of course, all of these reasons are predicated on the widely accepted notion that “Teens Don’t Tweet” — that there is a phenomenon that needs to be explained. As recently as last week even, the New York Times cited the fact that only 11% of Twitter is teen as evidence of Twitter’s unpopularity to that group."
"As it turns out, teens actually tweet more than the general population, prompting Silicon Valley Insider to say yesterday, “Kids Don’t Hate Twitter Anymore.” According to comScore, Twitter’s unique visitor composition index in the 12 – 17 age group is 118 (a value over 100 represents a higher concentration of unique visitors from that age group as compared to the age group’s concentration across the entire web). More interestingly, Twitter’s 12 – 17 composition index of 118 is higher than its composition index in the 25 – 34 and 35 – 44 age groups. The bottom line: Twitter actually skews more teen than the average site, and much more teen than Facebook."
Much more and some cool charts at the article.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Free eBook Library software for Mac or PC.

Just like you don't need an iPod to listen to music on iTunes, you don't need a new Sony eReader to read books. Use this free download to read any of millions of available books on your Mac or PC.

With the software you can:
  • Shop thousands of eBook titles including New York Times Bestsellers.

  • Take your library with you by transferring to your Sony Reader.

  • Read eBooks on your PC or Mac with adjustable text and two-page view.

  • Search inside your collection of eBooks.

  • Borrow books from your library (library card required).

Google Docs integrates Google Translator

Google has integrated Google Translate into its popular Google Docs on-line office suite and now allows almost instantaneous translation of a document into any of 42 different languages. I am not sure how accurate it is but I checked with two multi-lingual co-workers and the French, German and even Arabic translations are at least intelligible if not perfect. So, if you need a down and dirty version of your business plan in Norwegian you are good to go!

MPro 120 Pocket Projector. Want!!

Complete with iPhone connectivity, I seriously want this!

Learn Something Every Day

Obscure, but generally interesting facts posted everyday in the form of clever and cute Sharpie sketches. You can also follow on Twitter or via RSS. Check it out!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chart of Mythical Creatures. Handy!

Click to Enlarge

Social media and brand evangelism

I recenetly attended a webinar on Social Media Marketing sponsored by Razorfish, and while the webinar was less than enthralling - another Powerpoint sales presentation - it set me to thinking about the subject and how it might help us market our information discovery products better to our target audience, college students. Couple that with a recent interest in “competetive intelligence” and you have the makings of this post.

In a former corporate life long before Facebook, Twitter or even servicable chat rooms, it occured to us that the best thing we could do to foster interest in our products was to take existing clients - including those that didn’t like us, especially - involve them in product development, use them as beta testers, give them our latest products to bang on and send them into the world as evangelists to trade shows, client meetings, conferences and such, all at our expense. It worked amazingly well – so well, in fact, that several clients eventually became employees of the company. This is all fairly common today, but we really did think that up on our own more than ten years ago. Brilliant!

Tamar Weinberg has an excellent short article over at with several timely and on-point suggestions about how to spot opportunities for brand evangelism and word-of-mouth marketing by following the on-line conversation your customers are having about you. A good read and food for thought for those of us delivering services to a frequently underwhelmed customer base.

Color Scheme Designer. Brilliant!

Color Scheme Designer combines the features of many other less capable generators into a unique, easy-to-use palette creator with all the best features.

The site is capable of generating single monochromatic, complimentary, triad, tetrad, analogic, and accented analogic color palettes. It can even simulate color-based vision disorders to see how your design colors will look—they even list the percentage of people suffering from the disorders. The preview function builds a dummy web page with the color scheme you choose so you can see how your selected colors look together off the palette.

Cool stuff and for designers, a godsend!

Kindergartners own as many smart phones as their teachers!

As smart phone usage rises it is becoming more and more important that educators recognize both the imperative and the opportunity that the devices bring. In 2006, data showed that smart phone usage among middle and high school students to be at 9 percent. In 2008 that had risen to 24 percent and 2009 data will far exceed that.

The most recent data referenced below shows that:
  • Teachers report less smart phone ownership than both high school and middle school students.

  • Smart phone ownership among students in kindergarten through second grade is equal to that of their teachers. Astounding!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Four Tips for Building Accountability

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, has an excellently short and to the point article over at the Harvard Business Blog about accountability and why it is important, how we are ignoring it and what to do about that.

Says she:
"The tools of accountability - data, details, metrics, measurement, analyses, charts, tests, assessments, performance evaluations - are neutral. What matters is their interpretation, the manner of their use, and the culture that surrounds them. In declining organizations, use of these tools signals that people are watched too closely, not trusted, about to be punished. In successful organizations, they are vital tools that high achievers use to understand and improve performance regularly and rapidly."
She suggests that one frequently look into the mirror to evaluate oneself and the performance of one's teams, and she offers some "classic keys" to ensuring that the mirror is not broken. Much more at the link.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Free eBooks from your library for your eReader.

In its press release touting its new eReader, Sony Corporation also announced a new service that will allow owners of the new device to access eBooks owned by their public library..... sometimes.

The eBook store will now have a Library Finder page. Sony, working with OverDrive (, the leading global digital distributor of eBooks and to libraries, will now offer visitors to the eBook Store by Sony easy access to their local library's collection of eBooks. Thousands of libraries in the OverDrive network offer eBooks optimized for the Sony Reader, and visitors can now find these libraries by typing their zip code into the Library Finder. Through the selected library's download website, visitors can check out eBooks with a valid library card, download them to a PC and transfer to their Reader. At the end of the library's lending period, eBooks simply expire, so there are never any late fees.

The process is much more complicated than the Kindles 60 second wireless downloads and we need to wait and see what the selection and availability is like before getting too excited about this, but it could have promise.

Read more!


Real estate sales: Newspaper vs. Internet

Obvious...thanks, Teefy.

Five celebrities most likely to give you someting you can't wash off.

Hackers use pop culture trends to spread viruses and malicious software and clicking on a link found while searching for the latest scoop on your favorite celebrity could ruin your day and your computer.

According to McAfee, the anti-computer virus folks, one in five Internet searches for terms related to "Jessica Biel" leads to a Web page, photo, video or piece of spam that contains a cyber-security threat. So, in the interest of cleanliness and hygiene, here are the top five you need to watch out for:

5. Jessica Simpson
4. Tom Brady
3. Jennifer Anniston
2. Beyoncé
1. Jessica Biel - a one in five chance. Go for it!

Monday, August 24, 2009

You are judged by your musical tastes.

As a part of their on-going series Cambridge Ideas, the University of Cambridge has published a study that suggests that people are quick to jump to conclusions about each other on the basis of their musical taste. Frankly, there should be no surprise there (if you like rap music you are dumber than me....just kidding), but Cambridge has at least scientifically validated the phenomenon and has broadened the conversation into such areas as "why" it happens and "how" we as individuals use our musical taste as both a means of expressing our own identity, mood, ethnicity, values, etc.

The results show that music is a powerful form of social expression that can reinforce stereotypes and, potentially, social prejudices. By stating a preference for a musical style, many of us appear to use music as a "badge" to tell people about our personality and values. Interesting stuff!

There is more here, and a short film below:

The Music In Me from Cambridge University on Vimeo.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mickey Rooney finds Twitter not "wholesome".

How many minutes to earn the price of a Big Mac?

From The Economist

How to Manage Your Online Life When You're Dead

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Linkedin, Blogs, eMail... we are all building quite an online presence and one that might be of particular interest to those we may one day leave behind.

TIME Magazine suggests you make a plan for your online accounts-especially if you don't want your inbox contents or that embarrassing Craigslist personal you posted revealed to the shock of your survivors.

There are even online services that will take care of it for you.

Every movie title screen ever! Well, almost.

Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens has stills from almost every movie you can think of, all categorized by name and year of release. Great fun for a Friday! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

CBS embeds video in a print magazine!

I am not sure how I feel about this, yet. Clever, exciting and yet a bit annoying - like those lame audio birthday cards. Offered, nonetheless.....

Personas: How the web sees you.

Personas is a component of the Metropath(ologies) exhibit, currently on display at the MIT Museum - It creates a data portrait of one's aggregated online identity. In short, Personas shows you how the Internet sees you. Just enter your name (or someone elses!) and let it run.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mac/PC compatible COOL-ER e-readers now available at Argos in the UK.

Interead, maker of the COOL-ER e-reader has partnered with Argos to offer the device in stores across the UK. The COOL-ER is described as a light, small and elegant electronic book reader that is both compatible with Mac and PC computers and runs on Linux.

Small enough to fit in a jacket pocket or handbag the device supports various file formats including MP3, PDF, EPUB, FB2, RTF, TXT, HTML, PRC (non DRM), JPG, GIF and BMP. The COOL-ER also supports books written in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Russian, and Traditional & Simplified Chinese, and books from COOL-ER’s companion online bookstore.

Online e-bookstore offers more than 750,000 titles.

Currently available in the UK from Argos in three colours - black, silver and pink - the COOL-ER costs £189.99.

British Columbia University introduces a grade worse than "F".

It used to be that the worst grade you could receive in school was an F, and that was bad enough.

But B.C.'s Simon Fraser University is taking punishment to a whole new level, introducing a grade of FD -- meaning failure with dishonesty -- the worst possible grade a student can receive.

Dr. Rob Gordon, acting chair of the senate committee on academic integrity, says:

"What used to be a lot of cheating in libraries has changed quite significantly. We now have to be concerned about cheating during exams with high-tech devices and the inappropriate use of internet sources and downloading, including online companies offering services to students that promote academic dishonesty."

"They only use this grade in particularly egregious cases of dishonestly or in cases when they've committed acts of dishonesty several times and haven't learned from their lesson."
The mark, which has yet to be used in its introductory semester, will stay on the student's transcripts for two years after graduation. The implications for employment after graduation should be obvious.


45% of employers check Facebook before hiring. 35% are rejected.

Career Builder is reporting that the number of potential employers that are using social networking sites like Facebook to screen applicants is growing - fast. Last year only 22% of employers used the sites but the explosive growth in popularity of Facebook, Twitter and such has provided a goldmine of insight into the personalities, habits, joys and sorrows os potential employees. Notably, of those potential employers who did scan the personal pages of applicants, 35% reported rejecting applicants because of data found there.

What caught their attention?
* Provocative or inappropriate photos or info--53%
* Drinking or drug use--44%
* Bad-mouthing previous employee, colleague or client--35%
* Poor communication skills--29%
* Discriminatory comments--26%
* Lied about qualifications--24%
* Leaked confidential info from previous job--20%

Intrestingly, 14% of employers have disregarded a candidate because the candidate sent a message using an emoticon such as a smiley face while 16 percent dismissed a candidate for using text language such as GR8 (great) in an e-mail or job application.

And if a candidate whose pages were examined WAS hired. What effect did his/her social site have on the process?
* Profile provided a good feel for personality and fit - 50%
* Profile supported candidate's professional qualifications - 39%
* Candidate was creative - 38%
* Candidate showed solid communication skills - 35%
* Candidate was well-rounded - 33%
* Other people posted good references about the candidate - 19%
* Candidate received awards and accolades - 15%

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Most popular cameras for Flickr uploads

Seems like a day for graphs! iPhone is closing in on Canon's Rebel:

Click to enlarge

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If Twitter consisted of only 100 people

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Found at: The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian

Wear gloves for rare collection items? Rarely.

According to the British Museum (who should know):
"We recommend that people do not wear gloves when handling collection items unless they are touching certain vulnerable surfaces such as un-protected photographs, lead seals or the surface of a globe.

Instead we prefer people to ensure that they have clean, dry hands. There are several reasons for this. Gloves can blunt touch and make people less manually dextrous as they cannot feel the item that they are handling. This can cause them to grab at the item they are viewing or to hold it too firmly. This can actually increase rather than minimise the risk of damage to the item.

It is also very difficult to turn or lift pages with gloved hands. We have recently filmed a series of short videos which demonstrate the best way to handle and use different types of collection items.

This includes a video entitled 'Using Gloves with Collection items' which demonstrates how difficult it is to turn or lift pages with gloved hands. These videos can be viewed on our website by following this link.

Lastly gloves can also catch on loose pigments or fibres as well as picking up and transferring dust."

Monday, August 17, 2009

RECAP, Firefox PACER Plug-in: Public Access to Court Electronic Records

PACER stands for “Public Access to Court Electronic Records" and is the website the federal judiciary uses to make public records available to the general public. You can use PACER to access legal documents relating to thousands of federal court cases. Although PACER is officially available to the general public, it is mostly used by practicing attorneys. The site is difficult for non-lawyers to navigate, and it has a “paywall” that requires users to pay significant fees for the documents they download from PACER.

RECAP is an extension (or “add on”) for the Firefox web browser that improves the PACER experience while helping PACER users build a free and open repository of public court records. RECAP users automatically donate the documents they purchase from PACER into a public repository hosted by the Internet Archive. And RECAP saves users money by alerting them when a document they are searching for is already available from this repository. RECAP also makes other enhancements to the PACER experience, including more user-friendly file names.

From the site:
"The great part about this is that because the Archive is providing the server space for free, every RECAP user is saving the court system work. Each time you download through RECAP, you avoid having to go through PACER’s servers at all. So yes, RECAP will mean a decrease in PACER’s revenues, but it also means a decrease in the things those revenues need to pay for. It’s an all-around good thing. It saves attorneys, researchers, and citizens money. It saves the government computer resources. And it makes the law just a little bit more free and accessible."

While my guitar gently beeps

The New York Times magazine section Sunday featured a brilliantly insightful and interesting article on the imminent release of the Beatles catalog (well, 45 songs to start) to the phenomenally popular game, Rock Band. While the Beatles music is already well known and loved by many, aside from vinyl and CDs it has been largely inaccessible (officially) through the most modern of formats - the download. Opening the catalog to the Rock Band crowd will not only expose a new generation to the fab-four, but will allow them, and the rest of us, to explore the intricacies and nuances of the music in ways never possible through its original format.
“We’re on the precipice of a culture shift around how the mass market experiences music,” Alex Rigopulos told me recently. Rigopulos is the 39-year-old co-founder and chief executive of Harmonix Music Systems, which developed The Beatles: Rock Band and created the original Rock Band and Guitar Hero games that are its foundations. Although video games are associated more with guns than with guitars, music games are now the second-most-popular type on the market, ahead of sports and not far behind the traditional action category. The first Guitar Hero game came out in 2005. Two years later, Harmonix, now owned by MTV, introduced Rock Band. Together, Guitar Hero and Rock Band (now rival franchises owned by competing companies) have altered the way fans relate to music.

Playing music games requires an intense focus on the separate elements of a song, which leads to a greater intuitive knowledge of musical composition. “When you need to move your body in synchrony with the music in specific ways, it connects you with the music in a deeper way than when you are just listening to it,” Rigopulos went on to say. Paul McCartney said much the same thing when I spoke with him in June. “That’s what you want,” he told me. “You want people to get engaged.” McCartney sees the game as “a natural, modern extension” of what the Beatles did in the ’60s, only now people can feel as if “they possess or own the song, that they’ve been in it.”

An excellent read and I can't wait to see how this is received upon its release!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

iPhone: 8% industry revenue, but 32% industry profit More streaming music for you.

The Radio just launched in beta as the latest to offer streaming radio to your desktop/laptop. You can start listening immediately or build a custom playlist. You can search for an artist or genre to start your initial playlist or you can browse channels covering many genres and types. Songs you listen to appear under the history tab and you can listen to a previously played song again if you wish by clicking on it there.

To start my list I entered the group "Eels". I got "Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels." Well, it is beta; we'll check back.

TU Delft Library rethinks rules

And the main hall has been renamed "The Knowledge Lounge".

Thanks to Tame the Web

Google Reader Goes Social

Today Google Reader has been updated with social capabilities. Users can now easily send feed items to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, Blogger, and others. To enable any of these, simply go to the “Settings” area of Google Reader and enable the ones you want to use. You can even customize the “Send To” feature to enable sending items just about anywhere - even if it isn't listed.

Life before Twitter

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Is the Kindle the Betamax of eReaders?

There is an interesting article over at ING Direct that indicates Amazon's eReader, the Kindle, may be at risk for becoming as irrelevant as Sony's failed video recording device was back in the early eighties (I bought one, btw). At the time no one expected Sony to lose the contest against Panasonic's VHS format, but that is exactly what happened. Could it happen to Amazon?

Today, Sony is but one of the competitors Amazon is facing in the ever-growing market for eBooks and eBook readers. It seems almost every week a new player enters the market and many, if not most, are adopting the more open format of "ePub" which allows content sharing across platforms. Kindle's content is proprietary and not transferable to a new device if you decide to change. You have to buy your Kindle content from Amazon and you can't take it with you when you leave. The ePub format will be supported by most new devices from other companies. It's also backed by the publishers, who don't like Amazon's dominance of the e-book business, and Adobe, whose Digital Editions e-book format uses ePub.

Barnes and Noble is back in the eBook business in a big way and Allen Weiner, an expert in the e-book business at technology consultancy Gartner, Inc., says he knows that other manufacturers are poised to launch new reading devices with Kindle-style 3G wireless connections. Some may be announced as early as the next few weeks, he says. The plot thickens....

To complicate things, rumors grow stronger every day that Apple is about to enter the market through the backdoor by introducing a new tablet device that is expected to do pretty much anything your current laptop will do - plus display eReader content. Couple that with Apple's already phenomenally successful media delivery system, iTunes, and you have a formidable player in the eContent world.

Kudos to Amazon for everything they have done to bring eBooks to the masses, but if a decent, affordable device appears and it is compatible with content from dozens of sources, Amazon will have a hard time competing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bank to allow customers to deposit checks via iPhone

The New York Times is reporting that USAA, a privately held bank and insurance company, plans to update its iPhone application this week to introduce the check deposit feature, which requires a customer to photograph both sides of the check with the phone’s camera.

“We’re essentially taking an image of the check, and once you hit the send button, that image is going into our deposit-taking system as any other check would,” said Wayne Peacock, a USAA executive vice president.

Banking is one area where mobile has really taken off. For example, Bank of America, which has an iPhone app, has more than three million mobile banking customers, and 43 percent of them bank with an iPhone or iPod touch, said Tara A. Burke, a company spokeswoman.

Google launches faster Google variant

Google has begun testing a new engine for its search product code named "Caffeine". According to Google it is designed to “push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions.”

Available here, the new product looks just like the old. A few informal tests indicate it may be a bit faster (but Google is already so fast it is really hard to tell), and basic searches seem to have more results in its index than regular Google.

CourseSmart offers e-textbooks for iPhone

CourseSmart has confirmed plans to offer 7,000 e-textbooks for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The academic textbooks - free for CourseSmart subscribers - will allow students to access digital notes and search for specific words or phrases.

Frank Lyman, CourseSmart's executive VP told the Wall Street Journal,
"Nobody is going to use their iPhone to do their homework, but this does provide real mobile learning. If you're in a study group and you have a question, you can immediately access your text."
According to Lyman, the digital books will be priced approximately 50 percent less than their physical counterparts.

Although CourseSmart texts are not available on Amazon's Kindle or Kindle DX, Lyman noted that he would like to see the books available "wherever college students want them."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pick your apocalypse!

Pondering the possible ways America and its inhabitants will be destroyed? Instead of worrying about apocalyptic robots or asteroids, pick one for yourself over at Slate with Choose Your Own Apocalypse.

Slate has come up with 144 potential scenarios, and the interactive site allows you to choose up to five favorites. Some are fairly obvious like nuclear war or some form of pestilence, but there are new ones to consider like that asteroid that could crash into the earth in 2036 . Then there are the totally unexpected possibilities like: “Vermont Independence,” “Gray Goo” or an “Alien Species” that devours everything and everyone it encounters. Pick your favorite and find out what your apocalyptic choices say about you, and then compare your answers with the results of more than 60,000 other readers.

Should you "friend" your employees?

Several times in recent weeks we have posted here about the increasing importance of social networking as a component of one's "hireability". More and more employers are recognizing the value of the sociosphere to marketing, sales and customer relations, and more value is being revealed every day. When Twitter was off the air for a few hours last week the very real costs to marketers, wired corporations and connected entrepreneurs could probably be measured in millions of dollars – very real dollars. Social sites like Facebook and MySpace give businesses unique insight into client and customer psyches and provide a medium, when well managed, that can be of great value. But, what about the internal value of social media to an organization. What can an employer learn about his employees and vice-versa.

The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian references an interesting article at Mashable (via American Express Open Forum), where author Ben Parr says:
"While social media for business has clearer, more tangible benefits to the success of your company, social media for personal use can be a little tricky. On the one hand, it helps you become closer with friends, co-workers, and customers. On the other hand, it can lead to awkward tensions and embarrassing disasters."

"One area where there still isn’t a lot of definition is the relationship between employees, bosses, and employers on the web. Is there a problem with friending your subordinates? Does it help build cohesion among staff, or is it just strange? Do you even want to? I’m hoping to provide some clarity and answers to these questions."
So, Should you friend your employees?

What benefits could there be from friending employees? Social media’s great strength is building connections and sharing information, no matter where you are. By knowing more about each other, you and your employees may become more comfortable with one another and become a more cohesive team. It’s also a faster way to disseminate information to others.

What drawbacks could there be from friending employees? You could quickly learn about things you never wanted to know, and vice-versa. Many people, especially young and starry-eyed college graduates, still put up pictures of themselves drinking or in less-than-flattering situations. You or a friend could also say something that you’d never want employees to learn about.

What’s considered “safe”? It’s fine to interact with employees (and bosses, board members, and potential clients) on professional social networks, primarily LinkedIn

And Twitter? Should I follow my employees? Unless the person has a private Twitter account, it’s not generally a problem. In fact, this may be the best way to get to know an employee outside of work without violating his or her privacy. And your tweets will hopefully provide some insight or even lessons to your team. Yes, there have been incidents like “Cisco Fatty,” where a 22 year old lost a job offer via Twitter, but these instances are very rare.

How about Facebook and MySpace? These are the tricky ones. For many, these are personal and private accounts that provide a looking glass into aspects close to him or her. Because of that, my personal suggestion is to ask before friending on these social networks. There are benefits to a closer relationship with your staff, but don’t invade their privacy or make them feel uncomfortable by friending out of the blue. If you’re still unsure, I highly recommend a CNN/CareerBuilder article on the subject.

So what should my ground rule be? Have a point to your social media friending. Following on Twitter will help you learn more about the insights of your employees, but you may want to consider friending on Facebook only if you’ve turned into fast friends with members of your team. Be respectful of privacy, don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your mom to hear, and ask when you’re unsure, and you should navigate the waters of personal social media use just fine.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Design Management Application - funny.

Much more at Flickr

Spacelocker: Just don't do it!

Spacelocker is a social network where you can go to “meet friends and connect to online stuff” and offers an “evocative experience that is fun, free and functional”. Wait.....what? Nevermind.

What I wanted to alert you to is this post over at TechCrunch that describes in detail the misadventures of an innocent patron who decided to give Spacelocker a try. Son Lee failed to notice the small print in the sign up form which states:
"Note if you sign up on the left side form with a web based email account and existing password, Spacelocker will invite your friends to join you by sending invitations automatically to the contacts in your email account. If you do not want your contacts invited, use the right side form with any email account, including web based, and create a new password."
Well, Son didn't notice that and used her Gmail account to sign up. When all of her Gmail contacts were contacted by Spacelocker she wrote to complain. They not only wiped out her account, but sent along this response:
Hi Son,

You obviously can write English. However I think you have a problem reading English; or are careless when you read. The sign up page has 2 forms on it. One form is to be used by those who want spacelocker to automatically invite their friends. The other form is to be used if you do not want to invite your friends. There are big red letters on the left side form that tells you to read the note on the sign up page before you sign up. The note on the sign up page tells you about the sign up procedures. There is a link to a blog on the sign up page which further explains the sign up procedures in detail. The terms of service and privacy policy of Spacelocker clearly set out what you have agreed to by signing up. You obviously failed to read any of that before you signed up and now you want to blame us for your carelessness!!! Incredible!!!

Her is a link to the sign up: Read it and think if you can! (emphasis mine)

Spacelocker Ltd
the happiest space on earth
To quote TechCrunch:
"...Spacelocker is purposely trying to trick new users so they can get some extra e-mail addresses to spam. And to add insult to injury, they feel the need to behave so rudely when a user files a formal complaint.
I totally agree and am sure the social ether will make quick work of this stupidly rude startup.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The "winner" of the Microsoft Bing Jingle contest.... sigh

Microsoft has announced the winner of their "Bing Jingle" contest. It would be totally appropriate for you to listen to this on your brown Zune.

Is "Focus" Groups misspelled?

focus group n. /fŭkūs/gɹuːp/

1. A way of giving power to people who are highly motivated by: a.) a free lunch, b.) a small fee, or c.) hearing themselves speak.

2. A means of wasting countless design and strategy hours, and negating years of expertise by depending upon the opinion of people who either don't know or don't care.

3. A way of removing or shifting responsibility for the economic success or failure of any product, marketing strategy, or promotional campaign because the "focus group preferred it." See also: scapegoat

4. A highly effective way of killing any type of innovation, intuition, or creativity in a formal, costly setting versus an equally accurate alternative known as the dartboard.

5. A quick means to making a product, strategy or marketing project bland (or in some cases, worse) in order to appease all who attended or participated.

And to quote Steve Jobs (you gonna argue with Apple's business model?!)
“We do no market research. We don’t hire consultants. The only consultants I’ve ever hired in my 10 years is one firm to analyze Gateway’s retail strategy so I would not make some of the same mistakes they made [when launching Apple's retail stores]. But we never hire consultants, per se. We just want to make great products.”

“It’s not about pop culture, and it’s not about fooling people, and it’s not about convincing people that they want something they don’t. We figure out what we want. And I think we’re pretty good at having the right discipline to think through whether a lot of other people are going to want it, too. That’s what we get paid to do.”

Finally, Apple design guru Jonathan Ive says
“Apple’s goal isn’t to make money. Our goal is to design and develop and bring to market good products…We trust as a consequence of that, people will like them, and as another consequence we’ll make some money. But we’re really clear about what our goals are.”

The definition is from Fast Company

The quotes are from an interview in Fortune Magazine.

Grant Hamilton: Amazingly simple but profound Polaroids

More here.

The Survey of American College Students: Student Library Research Practices & Skills

This report ($100 to download!!) looks closely at the research practices and skills of a sample of 400 U.S. college students. I can't justify the money, but there are a few findings summarized in the abstract:

- Only about 47% of students are sure that they have ever been required to turn in a research paper exceeding 10 double spaced typed pages in length for any of their classes.

- More than 86% of students say that they understand the concept of plagiarism 'well' or 'very well'.

- 64% of students sampled say that they know how to contact a librarian online.

- 55.2% of the students in the sample had not asked for help from a librarian within the past year.

- Nearly 29% of students say that Google, Yahoo and other major search engine searches were the most important information source for their last research assignment.

- More than 9% of information needed for research papers was sourced from Wikipedia or other wickis.

- The higher the grade point average the less information for research papers was obtained from search engines such as Google or Yahoo.

Building the workplace of the future: A Guide.

This may be the single most important document I have ever read online. OK, it is 128 slides long, but every one is a gem:

The behavior you’re seeing is the behavior you’ve designed for

Short, but valuable lesson from over at bokardo Social Web Design:

It’s a simple statement, really. All it means is that what is happening on your web site or in your web application is a result of the current design you’ve created. If people are gaming the system, then your design allows for that. If people aren’t returning, then your design hasn’t given them reason to (or reminded them to). If people are signing up but aren’t getting started, then your design isn’t communicating the value of doing so or the way to do it.

The idea also subversively leads to a much closer monitoring of the behavior in question. If you start thinking in this way, you’ll find yourself asking “what, exactly, is the behavior we’re seeing?”. This alone is worth the price of admission…anything that gets designers more focused on the actual behaviors of their users is a good thing.

This idea can also change the mindset of design teams:

  • It sharpens focus on the design of the product, not some other distracting thing

    So many teams suffer from political infighting, unclear design goals, no vision for success, and many other things that simply stating that behavior is a result of current efforts really helps to bring focus to the situation. Instead of seeing design as something that certain people in the company do, we might recognize design as a response to the market and the behaviors that are happening there.

  • It puts responsibility on the design team

    This idea puts the responsibility of what happens on a site squarely on the shoulders of design teams. This produces changes in the design team: they start investigating behavior to make sure that things are going well. Unfortunately, many designers don’t do this yet, usually because they are judged not by what’s happening but by one of two other ways: by how beautiful their work is or by how much they get done. Neither of these criteria is good from an interaction-design standpoint. The only thing that matters is what’s happening on the web site!

  • It elevates design in the discussion

    Because this idea places responsibility square on the shoulders of the design team, it also elevates design in the discussion. All of a sudden we know where to go when the behavior isn’t what we want: the design team. Who do you call when things aren’t working right? The design team. Designers always seem to want a place at the table. By accepting that the behavior you’re seeing is the behavior you’ve designed for you might just get that seat…

The next time you’re in a meeting or a discussion with the folks you work with, try out this idea on them and see what happens. It might just change the way you work. I know it has for me.

Apple censors English dictionary

As an admitted Apple fanboy, even I am getting pretty tired of Apple's incomprehensible and puritanical method of approving/disapproving iPhone applications for its iTunes Store. Enough already, as they are now censoring the English Dictionary! According to Ninjawords developer,Phil Crosby, via TGDaily, Apple rejected the application only two days after it was submitted.
"We were rejected for objectionable content. They provided screenshots of the words 's***' and 'f***' showing up in our dictionary's search results," Crosby told Fireball's John Gruber. "What's interesting is that we spent a good deal of time making it so that you must type vulgar words in their entirety, and only then will we show you suggestions in the search results. For instance, if you type 'fuc,' you will not see 'f***' as a suggestion."
The application was rejected two more times before:
"Someone from Apple called to say we were being rejected again for illicit content, and no matter what we did to our dictionary, it will have to be 17+ to make it to the App Store. We gave in and said fine, hoping that we could get on the App Store immediately since the solution to their rejection was a simple metadata change. However, the App Store reviewer would have none of that. We would have to resubmit an entirely new binary and get to the back of the queue before they would look at it again," said Crosby.
A very edited version was finally approved for sale last week.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

How we spend our time

The American Time Use Survey asks thousands of American residents to recall every minute of a day. The data is aggregated by age, employment status, ethnicity, education level and number of children. The results are fascinatingly displayed in an interactive format that allows a ready and visual comparison between groups.


Google quadruples newspaper offerings

Google has updated its index, quadrupling the number of articles included in News Archive Search. It now includes articles from several new publications, including the Halifax Gazette, Sydney Morning Herald, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the Village Voice. They have also added new international publications such as the Manila Standard, The Nation from Thailand, and many others.

To showcase their offerings Google points us to the complete June 2, 1753 edition of the Halifax Gazette, one of the oldest newspapers digitized to date.

tags and findability

Here's a detailed and convincing study by Cathy Marshall at Tekka.Net on the effectiveness of user tagging. Summary: Tags don't work well. Narratives are better.

Augmented Reality and TwitAround

Take a look at the video below. It very effectively demonstrates the concept of Augmented Reality on a mobile device.

TwitAround is a proposed iPhone 3GS application utilizes an augmented reality Twitter viewer that displays real-time tweets around your physical location.

Hold your iPhone at eye level and the iPhone camera, GPS, compass and accelerometer are utilized by the app to produce a video see-through effect allowing you to see where the tweet comes from and how far it is away.

The principle barrier to implementing AG apps on the iPhone is Apple, itself. Developers are currently unable to publish these apps to the app store because the iPhone SDK lacks public APIs for manipulating live video.

Amazing stuff, and just the tip of the iceberg as far as augmented reality goes. Just think of the implications for libraries, museums, health care, travel, games! There is an open letter to Apple re: AG, and several examples of how the technology might be implemented here.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Awful Library Books

From the site:
Welcome to! Librarians, bibliophiles and lovers of nostalgia are all welcome here.

This site is a collection of public library holdings that we find amusing and maybe questionable for public libraries trying to maintain a current and relevant collection. Contained in this site are actual library holdings. No libraries are specifically mentioned to protect our submitters who might disagree with a particular collection policy. (A good librarian would probably be able to track down the holding libraries without too much trouble anyway…)
Have fun!

If you quote yourself, do you have to pay the AP?

We blogged in a recent post about the Associated Press and their attempt to restrict their articles from being linked to or appearing in search results.

The Associated Press is now selling "quotation licenses" that allow bloggers and, I guess, people who forward quotations from articles to co-workers to quote their articles. The licenses start at $12.50 for quotations of 5-25 words. They are also encouraging you to turn in people who publish without paying the blood-money, offering up to $1 million in blood money. Incidentally, they also reserve the right to "terminate this Agreement at any time if Publisher or its agents finds Your use of the licensed Content to be offensive and/or damaging to Publisher's reputation."

James Grimmelmann over at The Laboratorium points out that the Associated Press has become so deranged, so disconnected from reality, that it will sell you a “license” to quote words it didn’t write and doesn’t own. Witness:

He paid $12 for that “license" and those words don’t even come from the article they charged him 46 cents a word to quote from (and that’s with the educational discount). The quote is from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to Isaac McPherson, in which Jefferson argues that copyright has no basis in natural law. (oh, the irony!)

Posting in Making Light, Patrick Nielsen Hayden says:
"Welcome to a world in which you won’t be able to effectively criticize the press, because you’ll be required to pay to quote as few as five words from what they publish."

"Welcome to a world in which you won’t own any of your technology or your music or your books, because ensuring that someone makes their profit margins will justify depriving you of the even the most basic, commonsensical rights in your personal, hand-level household goods."

"The people pushing for this stuff are not well-meaning, and they are not interested in making life better for artists, writers, or any other kind of individual creators. They are would-be aristocrats who fully intend to return us to a society of orders and classes, and they’re using so-called “intellectual property” law as a tool with which to do it. Whether or not you have ever personally taped a TV show or written a blog post, if you think you’re going to wind up on top in the sort of world these people are working to build, you are out of your mind."
I have no idea how the AP thinks this will end well for them. The AP itself says of itself on their site: "The Associated Press is the bastion of the people’s right to know around the world." Right. I guess I owe them $12.50 for that. Sue me.

Seinfeld summarized in one image...

click to enlarge

And the "Cheat Sheet"

My Kindle ate my homework....

To paraphrase some comedian, "If my dog ate as much homework as I said he did he'd be passing firelogs." Times change and I noticed an article over at TG Daily about a poor kid who says his Kindle ate his homework when Amazon removed George Orwell's 1984 from all Kindles. He is now filing a class action lawsuit against the online retailer for the loss of the notes he made on the device for a school. The 17 year old claims he was almost halfway through the book when Amazon pulled the plug.

There is some legal analysis at the link.