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Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

The Myth of Privacy 2.0

May 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Recent headlines around privacy, super injunctions and scandals involving celebrities, sports stars and bankers make it seem like something new and dangerous has appeared out of the ether, when in fact it is nothing other than the usual, albeit grossly exaggerated, effect of disruptive technologies and their use /  abuse, laced with a titillating hint of salacious gossip fodder. The rest is history, or not.

 

Internet technologies and social media applications like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have made it child’s play for anyone to create instantaneous headline / publicity, or what I call a “flash buzz”, over almost any topic, event or person. There is no gainsaying the fact that social media has established itself as a bonafide media channel through which people can get the fastest and most direct access to world events, and to each other. But this is only just the beginning, if you consider the mountains of so called big data being fed each and every second by these, and other sources of information.

Once upon a time news information trickled down through well established but rather narrow media channels (i.e. news print, Radio and TV), but that trickle has become a fast moving stream, full of all any kind of debris (i.e. meaningless chatter) and valuable nuggets of information about you, your friends (or followers, fans, contacts etc.) and any number of other people. When combined with other Internet applications, such as the World Wide Web and a good search engine, no topic is out of reach for an intrepid seeker. So where does this leave us? What will happen to the existing media / information channels; will they be swallowed up by the deluge of information and get lost in the remarkably high noise-to-signal ratio? Will established media channels, businesses and industry go the way of the music industry?

I think not, because thankfully, there is still something to be said for the perceived authority of the printed word, and many people will still probably take the words on a printed sheet over words on a screen. Also, despite the wow factor of a new information source / channel offered by social media applications, it is still just that; only another source or channel for information. They are not mutually exclusive, and in fact people even use multiple information channels simultaneously. But what has this got to do with privacy?

Why, everything. The increasing trend for easily accessible data, information and knowledge streams means that sooner or later, and to varying degrees of completeness and accuracy, your so called private information will become available online, if it is not already out there. But what does this mean for ordinary individuals that go about minding their own business? Not much, I imagine, but for those with something to hide, or protect (in good cause or not), this can be a very real problem as the recent controversy over super injunctions in the UK will attest. Furthermore, for enterprises that make it a key activity to interact and deal directly with customers, this can be a gold mine (or just a plain minefield) to be navigated and exploited with extreme care as significant legal battles will likely continue to be fought over this particular topic.

In any case, one thing that seemingly escapes attention in the increasingly episodic furore over privacy is that the upcoming generation of Internet savvy digital natives may not see privacy in the same light our current generation of digital immigrants do. If social media was the norm at the time of your birth, or before, then it may be fair to ask just what the fuss is all about.

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The Buzzword Facebook Effect

August 18, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s amazing how the right buzzword can galvanise interest even in the dullest of topics. Think seamy tabloid headline meets uber-cool geek speak, and you’ll get the picture. This post is about a particular buzzword, and the effect its having on your life right now (even as you read this post), and that word is Facebook!

Given there’s already a couple of books and a recent movie, plus a brand new Location Based Service for Facebook, (ps. “location-based-anything” is itself a major buzz-phrase), it can be taken as read that the Facebook buzzword is having an effect like there is no tomorrow.

recently reviewed an eponymously titled “The Facebook Effect”, a book that chronicles the creation of this huge social networking phenomenon which probably plays too much of a role in your life, and that of half a billion other users worldwide. One thing that stuck in my mind was the vivid description of Facebook’s early growth across US university campuses. The strategy involved waiting until there was near hysterical demand for Facebook in each university, which invariably led to a geometric uptake once it was launched in that institution, and in turn, this created even more demand from other schools that were not yet on Facebook. This pattern of pent-up demand leading to rapid and explosive take-up of a new service or product, (also seen in the aftermath of Apple’s product launches), is something I like to think of as the “popcorn effect” for obvious reasons.

Other buzzwords that have an associated effect include the well known Network effect (as exemplified by Metcalfe’s law, i.e. the value of a network increases exponentially with each new user); also the equally potent Oprah effect, with her multi-billion dollar impact on businesses (mainly based on her core audience of women with a spending power of several trillion dollars per annum), it’s no wonder why companies and individuals will do almost anything to be a guest on Oprah’s show.

In light of these, it seems you can forget about the usual trappings of wealth like: mansions, private planes or even your own Island, because you’ve only truly arrived when you have an “effect” appended to your name, your product or to your company!

The Business of Facebook

June 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Facebook is undeniably a phenomenal success given it’s ever expanding membership and mindshare of all the social networks, but even that has not provided it with the same money making prowess as Internet rivals like Google. So how and when can Facebook hope to start making some real money, or has that boat sailed already?

This and other similar hot topics were discussed by the panel at a Digital Breakfast NYC event which I attended off the back of my participation at the recent Copyright and Technology 2010 conference in New York (more on that here). The highlight of this event for me was the presence, on the panel, of David Kirkpatrick, Author of “The Facebook Effect”, a book which provides a fascinating insight into just how Mark Zuckerberg and co. formed Facebook, and the subsequent rapid journey it underwent to become the behemoth of social networks. The ensuing discussions between audience, panel, and chair touched on the many challenges confronting Facebook in its quest to become a ubiquitous platform. It also explored sore topics like privacy (“which means different things to different people and different generations”, according to panelist, Elend ), as well as Facebook’s difficulty getting into China and its huge user base of potential Facebookers.

My Verdict: Excellent event, great panel, stimulating conversation and a pleasant location (at the Madison Avenue office of the event host and sponsor), plus breakfast and an autographed copy of the book! Now that’s what I call an excellent start to the day.

The Privacy Dinosaur

June 2, 2010 Leave a comment

This seems to have become a key talking point of late, and many people are taking a fairly vocal stance about real or perceived invasion of their privacy rights, (as it were some sort of property). However, it appears the time has come to consider the dreaded question of whether privacy will likely become extinct in the next generation or two?

Ok, so it all started with the ever so clumsy handling of Facebook’s now habitual privacy changes, which led to expected uproar over their motives, and the hassle of changing individual settings yet again. This was swiftly followed by the mea culpa and promises to take user concerns into consideration in future. So far, so typical, but what stands out for me is that such repeated cycles of mistake and contrition will slowly erode user sensitivity to privacy over time, not only on Facebook, but also on other social network platforms where it has become the trend setter and de facto leader anyway. Interestingly, newer social networks like Twitter and the infamous Chatroulette do not seem to have quite so many problems over privacy, particularly the latter video based network which if anything appears to be all about sheer, perverse exhibitionism.

In addition, thanks to the brand new Digital Economy Act, it looks like new anti-piracy policies will mandate ISPs to log details of copyright infringers, so that repeat offenders may be sued by rights holders as and when they please. In order to do this, I suspect consumers’ browsing habits and behaviours will need to be analysed (sniffed) and recorded into said log. So I ask again, is there really such a thing as privacy in our brave new online world?

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

Looking Ahead (Through the Rearview Mirror)?

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

This is really a sequel to a post written for end of last year (which can now be found here), about the likely direction of things to come, and the perils of following the crowd / herd mentality, particularly for those in the creative industries. Read on for some key messages and evidence in support of those observations:

1. Privacy? Fuggedaboudit – According to Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, “Privacy is no longer a social norm”. Yet people remain fixated with this fantasy that they can stay private online, as perhaps encouraged by such guides as this NY Times article on 5 easy steps to stay safe and private on Facebook!

2. Opening up protected video – The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) has come up with a way to enable playing of protected content on various compatible devices. So is this really Interoperable DRM at last? Maybe, but perhaps it might just be a little too late. A good explanation of this move, and its implication, is available on the Copyright & Technology blog. In any event, one key question remains i.e.: what happens to your protected digital content if / when the provider goes bust?

3. How to make the same mistake twice, or not – Moves by the publishing industry to protect revenue by delaying ebook releases smacks of a similar pattern of mistakes made by the music industry over digital content. According to this excellent Forrester blog, “there are better ways to Window eBooks” and it would be prudent for publishers to take heed.

4. The future is Mobile – Contextual applications enabled by mobile / geo-location services will be the killer proposition, no question. Just ask Google.

There you go. Comments welcome.

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

About the Economy, Piracy, Privacy (and Facebook’s Face-ache)

February 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Last week was certainly hectic in the ever-dramatic world of online digital content and personal privacy. Highlights include some events in London; the ongoing Pirate Bay trial; and a major about-face for Facebook. So where to begin…?

A week is a long time in politics, and digital content, (so much so that I’ll be proposing a name change for this blog to better reflect its breadth of coverage, but more on that later). Below are just a few of the stuff that went down last week

1. Events galore – Some rather interesting events took place last week in London, and I was fortunate enough to attend the following:

  • First Tuesday at the British Library (Tuesday 17th) – This focused on how to raise money for new ventures even in a recession. Founder and VC, Julie Meyer, spelled it out to attendees in a live interview by FT’s enterprise correspondent, Jonathan Moules.
  • Computer Hacking at BCS London (Wednesday 18th) – In this sold out event, SANS security expert, Jess Garcia, broke down the latest trends in computer hacking and the implications to individuals and businesses.
  • Broadcast Video Expo at Earls Court (Thursday 19th) – ETV’s Adrian Swift noted, in his conference session on emerging media, that the path to the future lay in adopting hybrid models which combine the strengths of both existing and emerging media to reach the target audience.
  • Power of Personal Information at BCS London (Thursday 19th) – In this excellent event, Tom Ilube (Founder & CEO of Garlik), painted a stark picture of just how vulnerable people are with respect to personal information. He encouraged everyone to exercise their rights by making “Subject Access Requests” for all personal information held by organisations with which they have / had some relationship (e.g. energy, telecoms, travel and even the grocery stores with loyalty card schemes)

2. The Pirate Bay trial begins (and IFPI website got hacked) – To some, this is about “piracy on trial”, with promise of major global repercussions, but it is probably more a rerun of the age-old struggle between old & new: mindsets / cultures / business models (i.e. transition & change in general). This one is still ongoing, but it hasn’t disappointed with the expected drama. Check out Wired’s blog for regular updates on the trial.

3. Facebook’s about-face – This is now old news / so yesterday, but one major point of interest is how users can make a very rapid and visible difference to web2.0 services like Facebook. To be fair, Facebook now has a track record for responsiveness (remember the Beacon affair?), but perhaps they really should stop trying to annoy their users in the first place, but what do I know?

4. The ISP’s Dilemma – My latest article, published in last week’s edition of Computing magazine, looks at the potential impact of Digital Britain on UK ISPs

So there you have it, an eventful week indeed. As mentioned previously, I hope to rename this blog to something more in line with its topical coverage of current / emerging trends in content protection, copyright and personal privacy. DRM Blog is just so…, *ahem*, restrictive, so watch this space, and any suggestions are welcome.

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.