Monday, 30 March 2009

BBC Music Beta

Open source seems to be the way forward at the moment for large UK organisations. February saw the launch of Guardian Open Platform which allows 3rd parties to utilise their API to create useful applications.

The BBC has now launched their music beta called....BBC Music. The new site aims to be an aggregator of data from both internal sources (BBC) and external sources (Musicbrainz, Wikipedia). The aim? Well their intention appear to be entirely altruistic. To create a hub for music whereby info from across the wide spectrum of BBC sites/microsites is pulled together to create a single, consolidated platform for music. They are also "now publishing several hundred thousand pages automatically, which harvest third-party content from Wikipedia and MusicBrainz" (BBC Internet Blog)

What does this mean for us users?

Well essentially its makes it a whole lot easier to browse artists and to then find out more once you have reached your artist's page.

Say I like the Arctic Monkeys. I go to BBC Music and use their nifty Flash scroll bar to find them. If they don't appear then I can just choose to view all artists and locate them alphabetically.

Once I have found my chosen artist I am then presented with a whole host of info about them, both from within the BBC and from external sources:

- Latest news stories (from the BBC)
- Biography (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
- BBC Reviews (A mashup of all reviews from throughout the BBC on this artist)
- Now On The BBC (directs you to where they are currently appearing on BBC Online)
- Played by (Which DJ's have played that artists music)
- Played on (Which BBC channels have played music by that artist)
- Members (Who's in the band)
- Links (to: Official Homepage; Fansite; Wikipedia; IMDb; Myspace & MusicBrainz)

Thats a lot of information and great for users of BBC online to be able to find out so much, about so many artists. They are constantly adding new material and acknowledge that the site is very much still in the beta phase.

The one concernI had was that all of this information could be obtain by purely going to an artist's Myspace? so what was the point? they responded by saying "you're absolutely right. We know that our users rightly expect an artist page to contain audio - it's what happens everywhere else on the web, isn't it? And we're on the case - there are technology and rights issues to consider here, but we think there's a way round it. Watch this space.

So could BBC soon be a contender for Myspace? With the API to such a large amount of info being opened this space!

social media blog

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Accessing Social Media on the Nokia 5800 - Reviewed

The nokia 5800 xpress music looks really nice. It has a big old screen (3.2") and the touch screen actually works surprisingly well. There is a built in accelerometer so the screen changes layout depending on what angle you hold the phone. This is no i-phone though usability wise. Usability is less intuiive and functionality less streamlined. For instance, when turning the phone to view the screen horizontally it first shows a black screen before changing configuration. Social Media wise - Its better

Using the 5800:

The point of this post:

Is to let you know what it is like for that lynchpin of modern society - Social Media.

  • It comes with Flash (Lite) built in. This allows for out of the box use of rich media sites such as You Tube or BBC iPlayer. Mine didn't work straight away though, I had to adjust the RealPlayer setting to be able to stream video which annoyed me. I still can;t use any site which uses any version of Flash over v7 which is actually a fair few.
  • Once on a site the touchscreen navigation is much like the iPhone but with out the 'pinch' to zoom in functionality. This is no problem though as a zoom in or out bar appear upon a double tap.
  • Wifi access makes download speeds incredibley fast (for a phone). as long as you are within reach of a wifi hub then you can browse at laptop/PC speed (ok a fairly old laptop or PC but nevermind).
  • The camera is 3.2 megapixels which these days is not considered that great but compared to other smartphones, is actually pretty good (better than the iPhone's 2mp). Video or images can be recorded directly to the 8MB card that is supplied and the 2x LED flash is v bright!
  • Standard features like bookmarks allow for quick access to favourite sites.
  • The Nokia 5800 is Java enabled and runs on the latest version of the S60 platform. The number of applications is limited and pales in to insignificance when compared to those available for the iPhone. The phone comes with buttons preinstalled to quickly access Facebook and Myspace from the 'Internet' menu. I am yet to find a good Twitter client for the 5800 though. I have tried Stew, Twibble and Twirl with little success. Although perhaps my expectations are too high after using Tweetdeck all day everyday.

  • The Nokia 5800 enables easy acces to Nokia's Ovi platform for sharing videos, images and is synchable with your phone
  • The battery life on the Nokia is 8.8 hours talk time; 406 hours standby where as the iPhone is 5 hours talk time; 300 hours standby. Lots more time for social media browsing!
Read more on the Nokia 5800:

social media blog

Monday, 23 March 2009

Twitter - Break it down now

Some would argue that the internet offers a place with no social boundaries and no glass ceiling. 'Blue sky thinking' is a certain term that is used (I would never use this phrase.)

Twitter however appears to me to be a complex world of friendships, allegiances, cliques. Socialisers, broadcasters and spammers all have different agenda's concerning their use of Twitter.

Socialisers use Twitter to:

  • Locate people they don't yet know, who can add something to their Twitter profile. It may be that being seen to follow a certain person gives you kudos or it may be that you actually want to keep up to date with what someone of interest is doing.
  • Engage with existing friends, colleagues and acquaintances on another level. Twitter allows you to keep abreast of what colleagues out of the office are dong or it allows you to see what friends did at the weekend.
  • Share information. Third party Twitter apps are facilitating easier sharing. Applications such as Twitpic for photos and URL shorteners like Tweetdeck's allow for quick link sharing. Who needs social bookmarking sites these days when Twitter allows you to catalogue your favourite links in the favourites folder and share your favourites via your status update? People can show their interest by retweeting (surely this is the same as 'digging' something?)

Broadcasters use Twitter to:

  • Disseminate a message to a large number of people. The people have to 'follow' the broadcaster and so must therefore have some kind of interest in what they have to say. Examples of broadcasters are; @bbcnews @google @twitter. They have an asymetric stream of information and tend not to interact with followers but more act like an information source (replacing RSS feeds?)
Spammers use it to:

  • Spam! They follow everyone and hope that they will be followed. They can be following tens of thousands of people. Twitter admin do not like Spammers and they very often have their account removed.

The above profiles are the norm but are not mutually exclusive. Many celebrities broadcast what they ate for lunch to a large number of people but then interact with them on a social level, albeit humouring their fans.

There does appear to be a social hierarchy within Twitter which bears a relation to the number of followers a user has. If their followers to followees ratio is high i.e. Following 100 with 9000 followers then they are high up the Twitter hierarchy. Offline influence can very much affect your social standing within Twitter.

Below is a list of what I believe the social structure of Twitter to be:

1. World leaders eg (@barackobama)
2. Real celebrities - huge stars in the real world eg (Ashton Kutcher @aplusk, Lance Armstrong)
3. Early adopter celebrities - not so well known in the real world but well followed on Twitter (Stephen Fry, Russell Brand, Phillip Schofield)
4. Key influencers/bloggers etc (Seth Godin, Robert Scoble)
5. Journalists for major broadcasters online and offline (@jemimakiss -Guardian Rory Celan Jones @ruskin147 -BBC tech
6. Business leaders/key figures within organisations (@emilybell -Guardian
6. Smaller scale bloggers and journalists -
7. Civilians - You and me @rob__murray @joebloggs
social media blog

Friday, 20 March 2009

5 Reasons Not To Use Spotify

5 Reasons Not To Use Spotify

1) Adverts. I do not want to have to listen to an irelevant advert half way through listening to my favourite tracks. This I feel is an invasion of my privacy. The reason I bought Sky Plus was so that I could begin watching programmes 10 minutes late and then fast forward through adverts. It's the reason I refuse to listen to commercial, tin pot local radio too.

2) If you're listening to it in an office or if multiple users are logged in - It stops if anyone else hits play! Rubbish. I don't like unscheduled interuptions to audio delights...

3) The music choice is disappointing to say the least. Lots of tracks are covers or karaoke tracks. Many artists are not represented at all. If you enjoy new music or niche artists then Spotify is not for you. Having said that, if you like random versions of songs then Spotify is perfect.

4) Its invite only so you have to wait to be invite dto join the fun

5) The music is streamed but is not yet available on mobile devices (although this is coming shortly I am led to believe). So good for static music listening. If it successfully makes the jump to will be very very good.

I'll stick to Napster and i-Tunes for now thanks.
social media blog

Monday, 16 March 2009

New Facebook - A users review

Having had a couple of days use of the brand spanking new Facebook layout I feel educated enough to present its pro's and cons. The latter being the longer list - buts that's to be expected right? No-one ever likes the new layout (there was an outcry last time) but this version seems contrived rather than intuative. It assalts the eyes with its mass of information although this may just take a bit of getting used to. If something is improved though, should it not appear instantly better? Any who here are the collective Pro's and Con's:

1) More immediate - A whole trail of information regarding friends and 'connections' is presented to you upon opening. Meh.

2) More like Twitter- Which is a positive for me as I love Twitter but a loss for Facebook as they are no longer industry leaders, but industry followers.

3) It is now easier to filter news feed and drag and drop your own filters.

1) Sponsored Ad's - The new Facebook layout serves to integrate the sponsored ad's better. They don't stand out so much now and are slipped subtly in between your highlights. so adverts are my highlights are they? I think not. Facebook loses me a little bit more with each wrongly targeted and irelevant ad that I come across.

2) Whats on your mind? - The new 'Publisher' box invites you to 'share' videos and other content. Nice but you could do that before.

3) Highlights section - The 'highlights' section is very busy and confusing. Althought it's about 'discovering content' its such a hotch potch of information that nothing seems to grab the attention. In my opinion Facebook should present glancable content that is easy to recognise and view.

4) Homepage doesn't stream - you have to refresh it. The immediacy of the information would be much improved if you didn't have to constantly refresh it for updates. Twitter is the same but this is overcome through applications such a Tweetdeck.

5) No collectivised stories - such as “5 of your friends changed their profile picture” or “3 of your friends wrote on so-and-so’s wall”. It’s all very singular.

6) Unhiding Friends doesn’t ’stick’ - Maybe thats a bug, i don't know but its annoying none the less.

7) Status updates - are now limited to 160 characters. 20 more than Twitter but thats not the point.

Click here to read further at AllFacebook Blog
Click here to read from the horse's mouth at Facebook blog

Other bloggers talking abouth this:
social media blog

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

5 Ways not to be ignored on Twitter

1. The Goldilocks Tweffect - Don't tweet too little or too often. Too much and your opinions may just become noise, too little and people forget about you and not take note when you do Tweet.
2. Retweet space - Always leave enough space for someone to add a retweet (RT) at the beginning
3. Tweet about interesting things. Whether your tweets be business or pleasure make sure they're interesting. Its still possible to bore someone in 140 characters!
4. Negative tweets - Don't piss people off by Tweeting about them negatively without having all the facts. Some people learn this the hard way.
5. Keep it real - Be everything you would be in 'real life' if you wanted to make and keep friends and acquaintances. Be transparent and if you're ever going to be caught out for lying or exaggerating, Twitter is the place.

Most importantly - don't be contrived. Don't TRY and be funny, relevant or irreverent, just be yourself. Ok thats six tips but five sounds better.
social media blog

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Google and Social Media.

Warning: This is a rambling mess of a blog entry. More of a way of collecting my thoughts than a coherent article but interesting I think none the less.

Four of Googles last five business acquisitions have been relating to social media. These being:

Zingku Social network service
Jaiku Micro-blogging
Omnisio Online video
TNC Weblog software

Does this signal their intentions to move further towards the social media foray? They recently introduced Google Wiki which allowed i-Google users to rate and re-order search results according to personal preference. This doesn't seem to have been well accepted by the new media community and largely ignored by the general public.

Do Google need to enter the social media market? total 2008 revenue was cited at $21.796 Billion. Which by any account is a lot of money.

They are the masters of the search universe. They have a market leading algorithm which no competitors can touch and a whole industry built around their core product - Search.

But Google don't seem as cool and relevant as they were. Sergey and Larry are older and not so down with the kids. Facebook and more recently, Twitter are becoming more useful as methods of locating information and contacts. For example, if I want to find out what general opinion is about the new Skittles website I could type in Skittles to Google. This will provide me with a link to the website but it won't let me know how people feel about it. This I presume is Tim Berner-Lees semantic web. Dynamic by nature and constantly evolving, sites like Twitter, Friend Feed, Facebook can provide the concise sentiment that the internet currently lacks.

This is a long and round about way of getting to my question...when will Google enter the Social Media industry successfully? They could have bought Twitter 2-3 years ago but didn't. They could have bought shares on Facebook but didn't. They have recently purchased Zingku, Jaiku and Omnisio which are all concerned with micro social media channels. Googles Orkut is their only entrance into the social networking industry so far and although huge in Brazil, does not really register in the UK and only has 67,000,000 worldwide (compared to Facebook's 175,000,000)

So my bet is on Jaiku being the next big social network IF it can bring something different to the game. Oh and it should also change its name, Jaiku is a rubbish name it doesn't mean anything to me. It is currently in invitation only, beta testing so watch this space (thats the tiny space in between Facebook, Bebo, Myspace and Twitter. You can see it if you squint really hard.)

More here:
Unofficial Google (Google Operating System)
social media blog