The Many Faces

23 Oct

The Many Faces

I have no idea why so many people are so addicted to social network sites such as Facebook. I’m not Facebook addict. Actually, I seldom update my status or upload my pictures on it; I even ask my friends not to tag me in their photos. The reason I do this is quite simple: I don’t want my privacy to be exposed to all the ‘friends’ on Facebook.

On Facebook, all the relationships are flat. Everyone is at the same level, whether I’m married to you or you’re someone I went to high school with or somebody I met at a conference. This online relationship doesn’t reflect human nature. For example, your mum and your boyfriend are rarely in the same room, but on Facebook, your information is visible to both of them.

What’s more, people’s offline social lives are segmented and specialized. People now turn to one group of friends for financial advice and another for political or spiritual discussions, for instance. That is to say, we talk to different people in different languages and we show different faces to different groups of people.

Although Facebook’s new ability recently to split friends among groups takes a step toward addressing this reality, it still has a lot to learn about the way people live their lives.

Before Facebook catches up this reality, maybe I will create another account (or even more accounts) for the other faces of me. ^^

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Facebook and Skype become more integrated

15 Oct

A lastest news: Skype announced an integration with Facebook this Thursday.

With Facebook integration, users can:

  • See Facebook News Feed in Skype;
  • Post status updates that can be synced with Skype mood message;
  • Comment and like friends’ updates and wall posts;
  • Call and SMS Facebook friends on their mobile phones and landlines;
  • Make a free Skype-to-Skype call if the user’s Facebook friend is also a Skype contact.

I think it is a mutual-benefit action. On the one side, it makes Skype more convenient and social and thus increases its number of users. On the other side, it increases the competitive power of Facebook as Google has already enabled its Gmail users to make ordinary phone calls or video calls. The call service Skype provides to Facebook is similar to what Google offers on Gmail.

The competition between these industry giants seems to become fiercer. Yesterday Facebook also announced its integration with Microsoft to compete with Google on search engine service. But to me, they tend to compete head-to-head in existing industry now; All the services they provide are quite similar but none of the companies has been able to create a ‘blue ocean strategy’ that can meet the real needs of the market and at the same time cannot be exceeded or imitated easily by the competitors.

Measuring Internet WOM

10 Oct

We all know about internet WOM. But few of us know how to measure it.

It’s not important to ordinary internet users, but it’s critical to the marketers of brands who have to track and measure what is being said about their brand online and where possible to leverage the power of internet WOM to their advantage.

As a former adperson, I’d like to share some of my limited knowledge about this and hope they would interest you a bit.

Basically, we measure internet WOM from four aspects: Quantity, Quality, Key Words and Opinion Leaders.

There are many different sources of internet WOM, including BBS and forums, social networks (i.e. Facebook), Instant Messenger (i.e. MSN), blogs & micro-blogs, and review sites. Quantity is the most basic measurement that can be realized through tracking key words on these sources.

In addition to measuring quantity, marketers can also look at the quality or the sentiment of WOM. It can be done manually or with the help of the new technology. If doing this manually, only small amount of information can be analyzed. The method is more like content analysis that is often used in analyzing survey feedbacks. But when doing a large scale analysis, we have to use some new advanced technology such as the text-mining technology developed by professional companies. It is able to help brands identify whether a piece is positive, negative or neutral.

What’s more interesting about advanced internet WOM text mining technology is its capability to help marketers identify in great detail what is being said about brands by their customers on the Internet, and to then even visualize online interactions and help identify who are the influencers (pictured below).

Simulation of visualized online interactions

Meaning that if marketers now have an in-depth understanding as to what consumers are talking about their brands and where/by who all that talking is going on, marketers can leverage the company’s communication service and R&D resources to address these issues, ensure the target consumers are addressed, and in the process improve marketing ROI.

Isn’t this technology cool? So if you’re attempting to generate some rumor online, be careful, they can find you! 😀

One day, our dreams will come true

13 Sep

Have you ever heard of this? A rollable display!

The Sony’s 4.1 inch ultra thin display can be wrapped around a cylinder with a 4mm minimum radius, which means it can roll around a pen. Display specs include a 432 * 240 pixel resolution supporting 16M colors. (Similar to the mass-market cell phones) It has a 1000:1 contrast ratio and 100 nits brightness. More of its technology features can be viewed on Sony’s official website.

It is still research. Although we are not sure yet what product Sony intend to use the rollable screen in, but it certainly shows where technology could be heading in the future.

Isn’t it cool to have a rollable computer in your pocket when you go out? I’m always dreaming of having a computer like that.  What kind of technologies are you dreaming to have?

Why Google has left China?

11 Sep

In April this year, Google stopped censoring search services on google.cn, its Chinese search site.

Google China

Do no evil?

Before Google left China, when you did a search in censored version of Google China, you would find a message at the bottom of the results page that translated like this:

‘In accordance with local law, regulations, and government policies, a portion of search results are not shown.’

Do no evil’ – This is probably the most honorable reason for Google to leave China market, but may not be the real one, as I think.

Do No Evil

When Google.cn launched three years ago, although many people worried that the decision to censor search results was a serious breach with Google’s corporate motto ‘do no evil’, Google still started its business in the quickly growing Chinese market.

Google’s goal, as stated during Congressional hearings in 2006 regarding the collaboration of American technology companies with China’s efforts to control the Internet, is to make the world’s information accessible to everyone, everywhere, all the time. During those same hearings, representatives of Google argued that it could provide more access to more information for more Chinese citizens more reliably by offering a censored search service inside China than by staying away.

What has changed since those Congressional hearings? Not a thing, except Google’s mind.

Business sense

As a business after all, Google has to consider its return on investment. There are probably two reasons that affected Google’s business in China and thus caused its retreat.

The first reason comes from its biggest competitor Baidu in China. Baidu is a local search engine which commands a 58% share of the search market. Google has also admitted that China remained a small part of its global business. Google’s China operations will contribute just 1% of its 2010 profit. We can see from these that the apparent principled stance is really a commercial retreat from a market dominated by domestic rival Baidu.

The second reason comes from the cyber attack early this year. Someone launched a coordinated attack against the service of Google. There was a suspicion that the Chinese government had orchestrated the attack in order to gain the information of the Chinese opposition. Is Google too angry to stay in China? This is not the only reason that made Google declare war on the Communist regime.

Google’s plan to beat Microsoft and other traditional software companies needs its potential users to be able to trust Google with their personal information. The fact that the Chinese government has been able to hack into the Gmail accounts of dissidents undermines this trust. The loss of trust means the loss of Google’s future expansion of its business. This is a kind of threat Google cannot live with.

What has been left to the search engine users in China?

Baidu - No.1 Player

As has been mentioned, Baidu has occupied around 60% share of the search market in China. If we assume that Baidu will grab at least that much of Google’s current market share, it would enjoy a 80% slice of China’s search market pie.

In addition, in contrast to Google’s unbiased and objective results, Baidu offers paid search results, as alluded to in its most recent annual report. The vast majority of Baidu’s revenues come from their pay for placement service that literally auctions off to the highest bidder priority placement of links in key word search results.

Without Google, search becomes the world according to Baidu.

Some thinking on internet drawbacks

5 Sep

Comments on blogs arouse thinking. Thanks Esma, your recent comments on one of my posts help to bring out the topic of this post.

 To provide some context, here is the dialogue between us:

       —   Me: I’m that kind of person too! That’s why people say that the generation of us seldom asks other people questions  because we prefer ‘google’ the answer directly!

       —   Esma: Ivy, interesting comment. It got me thinking. Are we more knowledgeable now with the Internet providing us quick answers accessible almost anywhere (near major cities at least)?

        —   Me: Hi Esma, I’m not sure whether we are more knowledgeable now, but I’m sure we are having worse memory now as we can search for the information online anytime and anywhere!

        —   Esma: True that. When we rely on technology, we don’t develop that skills needed to figure things out on our own. Examples: calculators and navigators.

Obviously, although we have to admit that internet enables abundant of information available to us and thus facilitates our lives, both of us have realized the negative impacts that the internet has brought to us – we rely on the internet too much to develop our own skills.

Can you live without internet?

However, my recent thinking make me feel that ‘fail to develop our own skills’ is not the worst thing as long as we can still obtain right answers such as a right address from internet. The worse thing is that sometimes we use internet to help us make good decisions, but we are often unwittingly being led by technology into making bad ones.

Have you ever had such an experience: when you have a hunch about how you should take a particular decision or solve a problem, you tend to look for anything on internet that confirms what you initially believe to be true? I think it is a human tendency to look for information that confirms what we already think and ignore everything else. As a result of this, bias and error creep in.

Besides, in my point of view, the defective computer system is also part of the reason that leads people to make wrong or biased decisions because they have been developed without a full understanding of how people actually think.

How to avoid the problem? A major re-think in how we use computers is needed, of course. Maybe a development of more sophisticated systems that are based on a better understanding of human psychology is needed?

Have you had any bad experiences that are caused by the internet?

How the internet has changed our social relationship?

28 Aug

I’ve just read a post about ‘How the internet has changed the way I travel’ from one of our classmates. It is interesting how more and more young people are choosing to plan and book their entire trip online instead of setting foot in a travel agent. And it seems that no matter which language you speak, you can always find good tourist websites like TripAdvisor, Webjet or Viator.

It seems that the internet has not only become an extension of everything we do. Nowadays, it has also become the part of the very fabric of our lives. Sometimes we are so used to it that we never think about to what extent the internet has changed our lives.

I might not be able to make an exhaustive conclusion about how the internet has changed our lives as it affects too many aspects of our lives. Rather, I shall try to think about some of its influences on our social relationships.

Through internet, you can talk to more person and in more topics at a time

Through internet, you can talk to more person and in more topics at a time

We become more global – Nowadays, the whole world is connected regardless of where we are. We can share content with people on the other side of the world. Innovations such as Skype enable us to have interactions beyond just voice or email.

We have broader networks – or not? Online social networking media such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have reconnected us with people that we wouldn’t necessarily see in real life. Sometimes, they even bring us new friends through communicating online.

There is no doubt that the speed by which we get to know someone – or at least what they look like – is rapid nowadays. But sometimes I ask myself: Does it really mean that our networks are broadened through the act of ‘following’ someone on Twitter or Facebook? Are this kind of ‘shallow relationships’ meaningful?

We are mobile – Location based services are sure to be the trend. Mobile technologies make our online relationship cross-over more frequently into real life. We can connect to our friends anywhere and anytime.

We are having a new way to communicate between generations – I’ve seen a TVC that shows a woman in the hairdresser with her daughter. The woman asks her daughter how her party went the previous night. When the daughter gave a nonchalant reply, Mum utters the very knowing line: ‘Hmm, that’s not what it said on Facebook.’ It may be a new level of openness and transparency between generations.

If you have any other thoughts, do post them. ^^