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Saturday, September 8

Ming delegates his 'poking'


We have just asked Sir Menzies Campbell when he last poked someone. The face of the Liberal Democrat leader registers utter astonishment, a flush of alarm then a hint of anger. Poking is, we hurriedly assure him, a technical term, from Facebook, which he was the first party leader to sign up to.

“Ah. I was encouraged to do that . . . I’ve got someone who monitors it for me because there are quite a lot of other things going on,” he says.

The Shock Doctrine by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein

nb: contains strong images.

Yet more birth pangs of government 2.0

According to Public Sector Forums:

In a victory of sorts for common sense, we're pleased to say our report last week on the CLG [government's] Take-Up Campaign's highly-inaccessible and potentially unlawful 'Pride of Place' web poll looks like it prompted some very urgent remedial 'alterations'.

The poll – which the Campaign, led out of Whitehall, is urging councils across England to place on their websites – has thankfully now been completely reworked, in light of serious concerns we raised about its failure to meet even the most basic web accessibility guidelines.
Good on the campaign organisers, you're doing better than virtually all the marketing industry. (Organisers: Now promo it to the rest of the web.)

PSF then go through a series of accessibility points and bureaucracy snaffoos (as a webbie, I felt for the recipients of this, having heard 'yeah, but then there's THIS thing' myself, when THIS is actually much less important than THAT issue which THEY should be focusing on, in what is a far more complex thing to do well than most non-webbies realise), ending:
Were all this weirdness not enough, the greatest mystery of all is why the campaign has chosen to host the poll at, when the poll, confusingly, is only restricted just to England? And mindful of the Government's 'freeze' of new websites, what was the Take-Up Campaign's justification for creating a brand new site when ministerial policy is to use Directgov wherever possible? Were there, perhaps, reasons for not using the campaign's website at Doubtless this won't be the last we'll hear of this...
The domain would be for marketing purposes? Because it's a very specific marketing campaign designed around a viral URL (try NB: marketing campaign.

As I noted in an earlier post, it's like the Monopoly campaign and lots of others attempting to rub the same local-pride nerve. Clear benefactor: tourism and business, you'd think. Albeit, the campaign itself is (PSF): "to get punters flocking to council websites", Campaign: "potentially producing high levels of citizen engagement with their local authority website" and targeting homepages, but it's a start. They'll figure the real use out ./ (Organisers: Now promo it to the rest of the web.)

Barest mention of marketing in the PSF article. But then one report just published by prominent sector body SOCITM and £2.5 m spent (to what effect?) with e-Citizen is the current UK eGov environment with netmarketing, totaling very little and late — so why would PSF see as about anything but accessibility?

Greenland glacier melt accelerating

Guardian reports today that the giant Greenland glaciers are, as feared, melting more quickly.

The predicted rise this century was 20-60cm (about 8-24ins) , but it would be at the upper end of this range at a minimum, and some believed it could be two metres. This would be catastrophic for European coastlines.

Robert Corell, chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, said in Ilulissat, Greenland yesterday:

"We have seen a massive acceleration of the speed with which these glaciers are moving into the sea. The ice is moving at 2 metres an hour on a front 5km [3 miles] long and 1,500 metres deep."
He had flown over the Ilulissat glacier and
"seen gigantic holes in it through which swirling masses of melt water were falling. I first looked at this glacier in the 1960s and there were no holes. These so-called moulins, 10 to 15 metres across, have opened up all over the place. There are hundreds of them."
This melt water was pouring through to the bottom of the glacier creating a lake 500 metres deep which was causing the glacier to float on land.
"These melt-water rivers are lubricating the glacier, like applying oil to a surface and causing it to slide into the sea. It is causing a massive acceleration which could be catastrophic."
The glacier is now moving at 15km a year into the sea although in surges it moves even faster. He measured one surge at 5km in 90 minutes - an extraordinary event.

The changes are triggering earthquakes.

Glacier Melt in Google Earth · Google Earth file

More Flickr photos tagged with glaciers

Religious leaders from all over the world met at the mouth of the Illulissat last week to say a silent prayer for the planet, appealing to mankind to address the impact that humanity is having on life on Earth.

Christian, Shia, Sunni, Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist and Jewish religious leaders took a boat to the tongue of the glacier for a silent prayer for the planet. They were invited by Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.

NASA: Fastest Glacier in Greenland Doubles Speed
Greenland Ice Changes Since 1990's
: This visualization of laser altimeter measurements from the mid 1990's shows overall thinning of Greenland's ice sheet, with thickening in a few locations including the Jakobshavn Glacier, where the ice stream slowed down in the mid 1990s. More recent data show that the Jakobshavn is now, in fact, retreating, and causing accelerated thinning of adjacent ice at higher elevations in a manner that is consistent with its acceleration. Cool colors represent areas of thinning ice while warm colors show thickening. Slight inland thickening is attributed to accumulation of atmospheric moisture from melting ice at the coasts, supporting observations of a greater net loss to the overall sum of Greenland's ice cap. (6.7 MB). Credit: NASA

NB: First try with new Blogger video upload. Quick and easy but there's no way to share video and it's not indexed by Google Video. Also not allowing resizing, unlike YouTube.

Another NASA Jakobshavn Glacier animation

EU Video 'Living with climate change' about glacier retreat in the Alps, sea level rise (good bye Netherlands) and changing tourism patterns (bye bye Med, hello Baltic)

Wednesday, September 5

Postscript · Burning Man

Lots of funky stuff on show in this PodTech video 'Black Rock City or Bust'.

From the Burning Man Live Feed, I like this screengrab I caught >>

Bizarrely ended up top 5. Google for varieties of 'Burning Man Live Feed'. Hello Hummingbirds! Must be the title and being part of the Google universe using Blogger.

Google is so huge on the web that tiddler I get click throughs from results page whatever, verrry long tail. But Title is vital: I get lots to 'How to open a safe' and variants of 'How to disable web filter software'.

The feed was great fun to check back to because it kept changing and it somehow made it look like it could be Mars (with blue sky, and echoes of Bruegel), helped by the radio noise.

Never been but it reminds me of 80s/90s Sydney events for apparent atmosphere.

"MySpace is the biggest youth club"

In America, maybe - it's Bebo in the UK. Who is advising Gordon Brown? Sounds like he's read Tom Steinberg if he's mentioning Mumsnet. No detail of course but his words are in the right place.

Number Ten Website, hat-tip Steven Clift:


You have offered solutions of juries, commissions and conferences, and yet at the same time we are seeing a massive growth in social networking, facebooks and the like that are actually describing a very dramatic different way that individuals engage with each other and with society. My question is really how can we ensure that perhaps voluntary groups that rely on time, passion and the money of these people don't go the same way of the participation in local democracy?

*Prime Minister:*

Well these are all very important questions. Let me start with the last one. We have set up a review into social technology and how it can benefit communities and we want to give prizes every year for those people who are making big advances in social interaction through using the new technologies. I mean it is true to say that in Britain today MySpace is the biggest youth club, and it is true to say that some of the great internet organisations are getting through to far more people, like Mumsnet or some of the organisations that are linking parents together in a way that formal organisations find difficult to do so. So yes we have got to encourage the new technology, we have got to make it possible for organisations to adapt to the new technology, and one of the reasons that we have tried to provide grants for innovative things is so that organisations can do so. And I think if we celebrate where advances are made in the internet that encourage community action, encourage community networks, that would be a very good thing to do.

Tuesday, September 4

Two thirds of young social networkers would be 'brand advocates' for a discount

UK search agency Tamar has some interesting findings in it's 2007 Social Media for Brands Report.

  • 80 per cent of people who use social networks have either chatted about, commented on or reviewed a brand or product on an online forum or social network.
  • Two thirds (66 per cent) of 18-35 year olds in the UK are actively engaged in social networking
  • Almost two in five (38 per cent) are members of two or more online forums or social networking sites.
  • There is a clear correlation between age and social network use, with usage figures increasing amongst younger age groups, peaking with eight out of ten 18-20 year olds actively engaged in social networking.
  • 59 per cent of men take negative comments about brands seriously or very seriously as opposed to only 47 per cent of women, with travel brands most at risk from user generated comments followed by consumer electronics, financial services and communications brands such as broadband and telephone providers.
  • Nearly 1.5 times as many 18-35 year olds would rather accept a friend request from a brand than have banner adverts on a social networking profile page.
  • The best way to get users to accept friend requests was identified as through offering special offers and discounts (60 per cent).
  • In contrast only 5 per cent said that they would be enticed by previews of forthcoming services, and only 10 per cent by exclusive products or services.
  • 18-35 year olds are most receptive with more than half (51 per cent) stating the they would even be willing to act as a brand advocate (e.g. set up groups for brands, encourage friends to join and participate) on social networks in exchange for offers and discounts. This rose to almost two thirds (64 per cent) in the 18-20 age group, who are also the biggest users of social networks.
The 2007 Social Media for Brands Report polled the views of a representative sample of 698 UK adults aged 18-35 between 20 June 2007 and 22 June 2007. The research was commissioned by Tamar and conducted online by YouGov.

Monday, September 3

Search is Editorial

Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia in the Times, arguing that they'll overtake Google with Wikia Search:

“People think of search as some kind of computer function but it’s really editorial – it’s journalism. If I type ‘Martha Stewart’ into a search engine and I get 10 results back, those results are an editorial judgment whether or not it’s made by a computer.”
A lot of the developments beyond Wikipedia are building themselves up. Wikimaps had a lot more entries to the point of being overwhelmed last time I look, for example.

The Geo offerings are great, but a bit unwieldy. The travel content is interesting and growing. (Plus Wikipedia dominates search engine results ... )

Oregon: Smoke rising from one of Google's server farms

You've got to think that Jimmy may have a point, but search professionals are ga-ga at the moment with how strong Google indexing is.

Even if Google carries on improving at the rate it has we weren't here with this scenario in the 90s with a serious community-based challenger to a corporate.

Nicholas Carr goes ballistic

Adblock Plus: the nuclear plug-in
from Nicholas Carr

Adblock Plus, the Firefox browser plug-in that erases advertisements from web pages, is a killer of a killer app - or at least it would be if it became widely popular. Right now, it sits like a coyote at the edge of the net, quietly eyeing all the businesses it would happily devour. The plug-in, writes Noam Cohen in today's New York Times, has the potential to be an "extreme menace to the online-advertising business...
Yes, potential ... but something in the 90s% of even Firefox users (it's not easy to plug into Internet Explorer) don't use add-ons. Plus, who's going to develop and promote a full-on ad blocker? Symantec?
Carr: If web users decide they don't want to see ads, Google would face an extremely unpleasant dilemma. Either its business or its credibility would end up in tatters.
Flee for the hills! Cash in your options now!

Says Cohen, about similar PVR 'concerns':
(As things turned out, TiVo and a rival, ReplayTV, opted not to include an automatic service to skip ads after vociferous objections by the television industry.)
He also points out that business whingers - for that is what they are - already have an answer, which is
“to serve ads from their own servers.”
Haa'retz do this and I still see internal promotions elsewhere. What I don't see is the full horror, revolving, irritating, smack-me-with-your-BRANDING ads ...

Marketeers have started to get the message about pop-ups, which is not because of AdBlock.

Yes, AdBlock is grrr-eat, but who else but geeks? Seriously? The odds are stacked against it. There's not a version for mobiles - the future mass market - and I'd imagine that's a even harder environment for something like AdBlock.

There have always been these type of developments because anyone can tweak how they receive the Web, that's why there are so many browsers. Things like AdBlock have been around for ages. I s'pose you could also say that things like MySpace have also been around for ages but ... calm down Nicholas! It's only an add-on!

LabPixies Radio / TV

V. cute widget .. LabPixies Radio, comes with two v. cute skins, "Listen to your favorite radio stations right on your homepage! Select your country or enter your station's URL manually and tune in. simple and fun."

You can go back in and change stations, selection's limited. You can submit stations and video streams. Does seem to work, as does this ... I could set it to blast out BBC World (it shouldn't), except with Sky, which is trying to send me to the ITV website? Channel Four doesn't work either.

Pretty damn neat! Useful?

Uh-oh. Next day, tried it at work and the user gets the default channels - ABC etc. - then has to change them themselves (visiting the pixies site in the process). Bit fiddly when the 'buttons' aren't that obvious ...on the TV it's 'settings' on the far right.

Still pretty damn neat to be able to offer live BBC World / News24 for free [albeit with instructions on how to 'tune in'].

Sunday, September 2

Burning Man Live Feed

Very watchable (nb: Quicktime). You get the organiser's radio traffic. Could be another planet when the dust gets up.

Packing up.

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