Social Whisper

Archive for February 2009

Over the last couple of days a growing number of articles have been catching my eye which appear to have all originated from a debate in the House of Lords created by neuroscientist Lady Greenfield.

Her comments suggest that social networking sites have a negative impact on our brains, especially in younger people which causes shortened attention spans, encourages instant gratification and make young people more self-centred, resulting with an inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity.

people online

While most articles are reporting on this news without passing much comment there others which are sensationalising this information but are social networks really to blame for this change in behaviour?

The description of ‘shortened attention spans and instant gratification’ has been used many times to describe the lives of people in the western world with every thing from TV consumption to meals have evolved that allows us to receive it when and where we want it.

This change in our behaviour is not a new realisation with everybody from scientists, to the media as well as consumers aware of how time poor our lives have become resulting in a change in our behaviours to become more self centred with weakened connections between friends and loved ones.

So while social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Bebo might be making this change more apparent they may actually be a way of bring us back together as a community.

Despite this I still believe that especially young people need to have developed social skills face to face in an offline environment for this to be the case. People who have no other experience of ‘real life’ and live solely through their online worlds will naturally be distanced from reality.


In organising things for my departure on Thursday from my current job it occurred to me that over the years in my current role I had amounted a substantial number of bookmarks on my browser that I wanted to take with me.

I had never felt before that I had a use for some of the social bookmarking sites, as when I tried previously it was just another place that I would have to remember to save things, so it quickly gathered the proverbial dust on my browser.

Now however with fresh interest I decided to do some proper research into the tools available that I had a need and thought I’d give you an overview of the more popular tools below, some of which I use already and others that I had a little play with.

Stumbleupon – I love Stumbleupon and although it is a Social bookmarking tool as in you can save pages that you stumbleuponlove I use it more for the recommendation side of it rather than the bookmarking site I was looking for.

Those of you that don’t know its easiest to use when you’ve installed the toolbar and picking which categories that interest you, then when ever you need a five minute break or are just generally bored you hit the ‘Stumble’ button and it brinks up a random page from the internet that has been submitted or rated by other users, which you can then rate you self.

Digg – Is a social news site where people can share sites and links that they find interesting where people can then vote and diggcomment on stories. This is a popular site and the pages that have received the most ‘diggs’ that day appear on the front page so people can see what is currently hot or interesting.

Personally I like Digg although dont use it as I find other social tools more useful and it doesn’t suit my needs for a bookmarking tool.

Del.ici.ous – Is basically a place where you can store all your bookmarks so you can access them from any computer. deliciousYou can tag your bookmarks so they are easier to find and organise as well as to share them with your friends.

You can also make you profile public so any one can see the sites you have bookmarked and can recommend others. Del.ici.ous also has a section on its main page of what has been recently tagged or is currently popular with its users.

Furl – To be honest I gave up trying to look at this tool as after numerous attempts to create an account and then furlfinally getting one,  I then had trouble adding the ‘Furl it’ button so I lost interest but it appears to be a combination of Stumbleupon and Digg (but not as good so I would recommend to use the aforementioned instead of Furl).

Reddit – Is a place where people can submit links of anything such as a site, picture, video etc for users to vote on. The redditfront page contains the sites with the most votes and you can have your own account to save the ones you like. Personally I find Reddit a slightly messy and childish compared to the other sites I’ve looked at, but I imagine as with most things a lot of it will come down to what you’re used to using.

There are obviously many other sites out there, and although these tools have many similar properties I think it depends on what you are actually wanting to use the book marking tool for that will dictate which site is most appropriate for you.

Personally I now use Del.ici.ous to store all my bookmarks as I have found that once I have downloaded the toolbar it will automatically save my bookmarks on my browser and in Del.ici.ous and Stumbleupon for when I need a 5 minute break from work.

It also meant that with Del.ici.ous I was able to automatically upload all my bookmarks that were saved on my browser with out having to add them my self manually, which would have probably taking till 2010.

I came across this yesterday which fit the randomness theme perfectly…. cow abduction by aliens.

cow abductionA groups of farmers in the US believe that they have found the source of the continuing problem of missing cows – Aliens. The site contains photos and video footage including  re-enactments to warn you all and help you protect your cow(s).

Check it out for your self here Happy Fridays!

Recently I have noticed that there seems to be more and more conversations occuring about buzz tracking both offline in our agency and with our clients as well as in the blogosphere and places like Twitter.

This had made me realise that I never posted an update on our Buzz Tracking activities after speaking to numerous agencies. So here you go…

A couple of months ago – back in the early days of this blog I wrote a post about our search for a buzz tracking tool. We spoke to around ten different buzz tracking agencies, looking at them from various angles and quickly realised that there was no one tool that would be able to do everything we were looking for.

So to ensure we chose the best tool for the job our findings were that each campaign would be analysed on a campaign by campaign basis in terms of budget, the type of data required, reporting functions etc which will then go into the decision of which tool would be the most appropriate.

buzz tracking

So far we’ve been using a company called Brandwatch who have been very impressive in terms of their response time, helpfulness, as well as the reports from the tool itself. I have spoken to a couple of people on Twitter who have the same opinion, and so I would say that they are a good place start if your looking to get into buzz tracking.

(Just to confirm I don’t work from Brandwatch or been paid to write nice things about them!)

I saw this in the Metro this morning and think that it may be my new favourite type of art. Like most people nowadays I love Banksy’s work and modern graffiti and light graffiti as this is called is amazing.

I can’t remember the name of the artist that appeared in the Metro to give credit to this work so if any one does, please let me know so I can give credit.

light graffiti

light graffiti

light Art

They were created by using a long exposure and waving a torch around to create shapes and images in the dark. There are more pictures on the Metro site.

Coincidentally friend Dave (he’s soon going to become legendary on this blog from the amount of times I reference him!) also does this sort of long exposure photography. The below picture was of the traffic by Embankment

Dave's Photo

With love in the air at this time of year I thought I’d spread it a little bit further….

An island just off Croatia in the shape of a heart has been discovered by users on Google Earth. Since the discovery the owner has be inundated with requests to stay on the island which is currently uninhabited.

lovers island

As the internet continues to develop through it various stages of growth it appears to be a bit like a child; initially once born it is just growing and getting accustomed to the surroundings as in Web 1.0, Web 2.0 the toddlers stage – learning to speak and communicate with other people in the world and matching words to objects.

Web 3.0 understanding the meaning behind the conversations and words and beginning to talk back to you and join in with the world around them, and then Web 4.0 the preschool age of building associations between actions the meaning of what is going on around them.
web 1.0 to 3.0

Internet growth is steadily increasing as advances in technology occur faster and faster with this growth is being based on humanising machines allowing them to understand us and how we think so we can work closer and more efficiently together.

While I think that this is more practical than trying to make humans evolve into thinking like computers, it does bring up the question that many technophob’s pose – how long will it be until computers run our lives?

I have phrased this as ‘run’ our lives and not as in Electric Dreams manner of ‘controlling or taking over’ our lives (sorry I don’t know if there are better examples of weird computer movies but that’s the only one I’ve seen).

More than 70% of people are now going online to find information and answers to their questions, however trivial without necessarily questioning the motive or source of the information.

Although I can’t find the article any more I remember reading about how in the future people will be able to Google ‘What shall I do today?’ which is slightly disturbing as although the answer could be ‘walk your dog’ (admittedly not very useful unless you have a dog), but what happens if your computer suddenly turns round and tells you to ‘kill your dog’ or worse?!


February 2009
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