The thoughts of a web 2.0 research fellow on all things in the technological sphere that capture his interest.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Social Media Disorders

There was an interesting blog post at the Online Journalism Blog about social media addicts and some of the associated syndromes:
-Comment Guilt
-RSS Reader Sisyphus Complex
-Twitter Rage
-Six Degrees of Seperation Syndrome
-Plugin/Update Cofusion
-FOOcamp Anxiety

Whilst 'RSS Reader Sisyphus Complex' is my only specifically identified syndrome, I do suffer from variations of some of the others. Specifically:
-Post Guilt - Rather than guilt at not commenting on other people's blogs, I must admit to publishing a lot of low quality posts.
-Publish Post Rage - The delay between clicking on the 'publish post' button and the publishing of the post can feel like hours. This always seems to occur when you have made a mistake and want to change your post.
-F-ing Stupid Computer Confusion - If only my time loss was limited to plugins and updates, on so many occasions everything in the computer world seems to conspire against me. Two days ago I spent 5 hours trying to transfer my Endnote references to CiteULike: they still reside solely on Endnote. Yesterday I spent 2 hours on a browser problem my girlfriend was having: the problem has yet to be resolved.

In defense of Twitterhoeia, and it's associated cousin bloggerhoeia, sometimes it is the mundane that actually piques the interest of others in the online community. Often I find that the well-thought-out essay sized posts get little response, whereas the mundane posts become a forum for discussion.

Most of the syndromes seem to be driven by a need to be the centre of the world, to know everything and everyone, and be recognised by our peers as such. The online world encourages this narcissism as we are able to put 'concrete' figures to so many of our actions: how many friends we have, follows, visitors. First step on the road to recovery: dump the site analytics. It is too late for me, but there may be hope for some of you.

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Monday, 28 April 2008

Wii Fit Diary - Day 4

Despite accumulating the maximum three hours a day for the first three days, as well as an hour this morning, I still have not opened up all the exercises: 3 Muscle Workouts, and one Aerobic Exercise to go. However, on reaching a total of ten hours, you do exchange your silver piggybank for a gold piggybank:

Will the gold pig help me get fit? Doubtful.

Day 3 Results
Weight: 14st 7lbs
Body Mass Index: 26.91
Wii Fit Age: 34

Day 4 Results
Weight: 14st 4
Body Mass Index: 26.50
Wii (impressively)Fit Age: 28

Whilst day three results saw a strange step in the wrong direction, they now seem to be going in the right direction again.


posted by David at | 2 Comments

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Wii Fit Diary - Day 2

Unsurprisingly my weight and BMI have not moved much from yesterday (and any change can be put down to a difference in the weight of my clothes), however, my Wii Fit age has fallen astronomically:
Weight: 14st 4lbs
Body Mass Index: 26.50
Wii (not-too-un)Fit Age: 31
Does the sudden improvement reflect an overnight improvement in my fitness, or does it reflect the meaningless of the Wii Fit age? In partial defence of the Wii Fit age, the test was based on balance, and even if my balance hasn't improved much, I have probably improved at the balance games after spending most of yesterday playing them.

New sections of the game open up according to how long you have spent playing on the Wii Fit, and after accruing the maximum 3hrs yesterday (which actually takes nearer to 4 or 5 hours) all the nine balance games have now opened up.

HeadingSki SlalomSki JumpTable TiltTightrope TensionBalance BubblePenguin SlideSnowboard SlalomZazen
My personal favourites are Heading, and Ski Jump. The worst, without a doubt, is Zazen: you sit on the Wii Board and mustn't move whilst you watch a candle with a butterfly flying around it! Very disappointing to have Zazen open up after reaching the 3hr quota.

Today I will be trying to include more of the muscle workouts, unfortunately they are not as much fun.


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Friday, 25 April 2008

Open Data - post 2

I posted earlier about open data, and included an example of the sort of network diagram Many Eyes allows. Following this, I decided to see the sort of things it could do with some text, and uploaded some data I had collected from Twitter back in February.

Not a particularly great set of data, but something interesting to play about with, with word frequency clouds:

And a word tree:

I will definatley be keeping the potential of these tools in mind as I collect bits and pieces from the web in the weeks ahead.

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Wii Fit Diary - Day 1

At 12.45 Wii Fit arrived from Argos:

I decided against including either film or photos of me working out on the Wii Fit, so if somehow you don't know what one is, here is the trailer:

The game consists of 'over 40' activities, falling within four categories: balance games, aerobic exercise, yoga, and muscle workouts. As is so often the case with games these days, some of the sections only open up after you have spent a certain amount of time on the Wii. So, first impressions: great fun, although I have chosen to spend most of my time on the balance games, so whether the Wii Fit will manage to actually get me fit, only time can tell. The feature that is likely to keep you coming back (as opposed to the DVD that you leave on the shelf), is that it keeps a track of your weight and 'Wii Fit Age' over time. My starting stats:
Weight: 14st 5lbs
Body Mass Index: 26.68 (i.e., overweight)
Wii (un)Fit Age: 42
The Wii and I have had a discussion, and agreed that I need to lose one stone.


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Open Data: A link diagram

One of the problems with the web is that it is just too damned big: just as you think you are uptodate with everything in one area, you suddenly realise that there is a whole other area that you has totally passed you by. For me that area is Open Data: the practice of making data freely available to everyone. Whilst I had heard a few rumblings, I didn't really appreciate how much was going on, or some of the tools that were available, until reading an article in the last issue of Online Magazine. Webometricians create massive amounts of data, and whilst we know we should do more, we generally use the data we gather as the subject of academic papers, or blog posts, then it sits on our hardrives until we forget where it was from and what it represents (personally I have gigabytes worth of data in text files that is now totally meaningless to me).

In future I will definately make a concerted effort to try and make data available on Open Data sites (whether people like it or not). Not only due to the movement's worthy ethos, but for the selfish reasons of a useful repository and the benefits of some useful tools. Of the many open data sites my first experimentation has been with IBM's Many Eyes (, which, whilst suffering from a few bugs, has some great visualisation applications, including network diagrams:

This particular network comes from my, ever-so-successful, PhD thesis. It shows the interlinking between the web sites of 64 members of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, as seen through the Microsoft Live Search API (in the glory days of access to both the linkdomain and linkfromdomain operators). Obviously not particular awe-inspiring here, but earth-shattering in the context of 130 other pages.

Additional open data sites include Data360, Swivel, Freebase, and many more. Whilst I'm sure that different people will find different sites more appropriate to their needs, the main thing is that we (espicially academics) start getting the data out there...and more than the off the cuff 95 lines I uploaded for the above diagram.

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xRank: Another frivolous ranking

Hot on the heels of the BBC's Sound Index, Microsoft have announced the launch of xRank, a ranking of celebrities by search volume. Whilst there were a few negative comments about the sort of music that made it to the top of the Sound Index, the mere existence of xRank is a damning indictment of society. Whilst it has a certain curiosity value the first time, what sort of person will regularly return? Maybe just the celebrities and their stalkers.

The good news is that, unlike the decidedly flawed Sound Index, Cliff Richard is in the xRank index: currently at 97 after a sudden fall of 54 places.

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Thursday, 24 April 2008

Google Me: The Movie

As well as the arrival of my Wii Fit (hopefully), tomorrow will also see the launch of Google Me: The Movie on YouTube. Jim Killeen Google's his own name, then travels the world meeting other Jim Killeens...sound familiar? Obviously Killeen is a massive Dave Gorman fan, mixing up Gorman's Googlewhack adventures and Are you Dave Gorman? into one YouTube film.

What is of interest is that the film will be shown for free on YouTube ('for a limited time only'). Which, if Andrew Keen's figures are anything to go by, is unlikely to make Killeen a fortune. It will however provide a documentary that doesn't seem to be particularly original a lot more publicity than it would otherwise have got.

Maybe we will see more films publicising themselves like this in the future: show for a couple of days for free, then let word of mouth drive traffic to the cinemas/DVDs. How much does a Hollywood blockbuster spend on publicity? How much would they lose by making it available on YouTube for a day or two? Obviously Killeen has nothing to lose in comparison to the millions a big studio would be risking, but it would be interesting to see one give it a try.

So, will I take a break from sculpting my body on the Wii fit to watch Google Me The Movie? Possibly, but it will have to be better than the rather annoying web site that goes with it.

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Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Wii Fit: Argos Changes the Rules

I have always had misgivings about ordering my Wii Fit from Argos. Whilst all the indicators seem to suggest that I will be getting a Wii Fit on Friday, they have changed the delivery time from between 12pm-6pm to between 8am and least according to the letters and phone calls that I keep getting!

OK, it is only the one phone call, and the one letter, but nonetheless very unexpected when ordering goods online. Is this over-the-top 'customer service' a reflection of their not knowing how to behave in an online environment, or is it because they have changed the delivery times? If it's because of the delivery times then they could at least include an apology.

...on the subject to the Wii, Asda had Sega Superstars Tennis and Sonic and the Secret Rings for £15 each today...a reminder that it's not always cheaper online.


posted by David at | 11 Comments

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

The Google Monopoly

Every day I seem to come across some story that reminds me how much I hate the Google monopoly. Today that story was at Search Engine Roundtable: Google advice on linking out from your web site.

The original advice was provided in a Google Groups thread, where someone was concerned about linking to their own sites in case it incurred the wrath of google:
I understand that GOOGLE does not like the exchange of links solely for the purpose of increasing page rank. Can it accurately determine which sites are abusing their guidelines? I have a number of websites that deal with similar products and services and I am reluctant to exchange links because these sites might run the risk of being penalised. I know that I can include rel="nofollow" to overcome this problem but am I being over cautious?

The advice provided was not particularly offensive or restrictive, but what bothers me is that so many people have to be concerned about what one search engine thinks. If Google started penalising links to affiliated web sites, people would take down those links; if Google promoted sites that were covered in leprechauns, people would cover their sites in leprechauns. In a healthy search engine marketplace we would not have the need to be overly concerned about the criteria of any single search engine.

Personally, about 80-90% of my traffic comes from Google. Luckily, as my income is not derived from my web activities and I don't need to be overly concerned about Google's ranking and happily link to my allotment blog which has absolutely nothing to do with the world of technology (except for the fact that it is a blog).

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BBC's Sound Index: The latest and greatest

Despite all the information technology at our finger tips, I am still amazed at how long it takes for stories to spread around the web. The BBC has launched a Sound Index, a social media music chart that is updated every hour. Despite being mentioned in the Radio 1 blog on the 11th April, and in the Guardian on the Friday, it suddenly seems to be talked about everywhere since blogged about in the ReadWriteWeb. The way we access news has changed, and despite what we may think, it is not always faster...

Anyway, the Sound Index:
Every six hours the Sound Index crawls some of the biggest music sites on the internet - Bebo, MySpace, Last.FM, iTunes, Google and YouTube - to find out what people are writing about, listening to, watching, downloading and logging on to. It then counts and analyses this data to make an instant list of the most popular 1000 artists and tracks on the web. The more blog mentions, comments, plays, downloads and profile views an artist or track has, the higher up the Sound Index they are. So, the Sound Index is a music buzz index controlled entirely by the public.

It is an interesting twist on the traditional charts, potentially making a person's actions as important as their songs as they attempt to create an internet buzz.

The top of the Sound Index is unsurprisingly full of the usual suspects, although as it is a top 1000 there is plenty of room for the lesser known acts, and the classic pop canon.

Whilst it is an easy and enjoyable way to waste time, I must admit that I was shocked to find that Cliff Richard has yet to make it into the index....obviously something wrong with the algorithm.

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Saturday, 19 April 2008

Everybody is Google Crazy!

It would seem as though nobody knows what Google is worth, how else do you explain a 20% increase in their share price in one day? This is not a time for naysayers to eat their words (as Mashable would have us believe), but rather for us to enjoy the spectacle of the total market confusion!

Over the last few months Google's share price has reached the dizzying heights of $747.24, and fallen as low as $412.11. Is there anything left in the market? Probably, but it is not the sort of company you will want to place your life savings in. Volatile share price? Probably haven't seen anything yet.

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Britannica 1.5

An article over at TechCrunch points to some of the changes that are going on over at Britannica, most noticeably their new Webshare program:
A special program for web publishers, including bloggers, webmasters, and anyone who writes for the Internet. You get complimentary access to the Encyclopedia Britannica online and, if you like, an easy way to give your readers background of the topics you write about with links to complete Britannica articles.

It would seem to be a move where everybody wins, Britannica's content is promoted for free, whilst bloggers and other publishers get access to a high quality encyclopedia. Unfortunately they "reserve the right to deny participation to anyone who in our judgment doesn’t qualify", so I will have to wait and see if they deem my blog worthy.


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Friday, 18 April 2008

I buy my electronics from...Argos?

Despite having had my eye on the Wii Fit since December, having spotted the UK release date in February, and being aware of shops selling out over a week ago, I have only just placed my order for the Wii fit. All the usual suspects had sold out, so I had to place my order with Argos:

"Argos will only take pre-orders against a pre-agreed launch allocation from the supplier. Argos will not start taking pre-orders until this allocation is known. Argos will stop taking pre-orders when this allocation has been sold. Argos will never knowingly oversell the Wii Fit. Argos will endeavour to deliver on the launch date, however should the supplier fail to deliver on time or part deliver on launch date, Argos will deliver to customers in strict chronological order, which may be after the launch date."

Whilst there is no reason why I should expect Argos to be less reliable than any of the other online sellers, I don't feel particularly confident. If it was an electric blanket I would be extremely confident, however you just get the feeling that an outlet better known for toasters and kettles will be one of the first to get it's order shortened.

12pm-6pm Friday 25th April 2008 looks like it will be a stressful few hours.


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News Aggregators: Live Search News Joins In

Hitwise have posted on the increase in visits to the top news aggregators, just days after the revamp of Microsoft's Live Search News. Whilst I don't agree with the article's description of web 3.0 (or any other web 3.0, web 4.0 or web 5.0 bandwagon), there seems little doubt news aggregators are changing the way we access the news. If anything I am surprised that there were only 8 news aggregators amongst the top 100 news and media sites.

My immediate reaction to Microsoft's entrance was one of joy, pleased with any service that nibbles away at Google's online dominance, but when seen as part of the increase in news aggregation, you have to worry about effect it will have on the news creators who are already trying to cut corners. The question is whether new news models can emerge before the old one stops working.

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Guitar Hero III - On your mobile!

Whilst I have had my N95 about nine months, I have not as yet bought a single game for it...this will change, however, with the arrival of Guitar Hero III.

Of course it won't be the same as playing with the guitar, and will quickly become annoying in public places, but nonetheless I will have to have it!

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Facebook Lexicon v. Google Trends

One of the most interesting stories of the last week has been Facebook's introduction of their lexicon tool, "a tool to follow language trends across Facebook" (via All Facebook). Whilst the information provided is very simplistic, merely showing the rising and fall of the terms' popularity rather than specific numbers, it will be interesting to see how the popularity of terms equates to those that are searched for in Google (available via Google Trends). Are those terms that appear in wall posts the same as those that appear in Facebook wall posts? And do they follow the same trends?

For a quick comparison I took data from the two services for the term Christmas, a popular term that could be expected to vary over the year:
Google Trends

Facebook Lexicon

Unsurprisingly they both peak around the Christmas period, although the peak is much more pronouced on Facebook...all those Merry Christmas posts. To a certain extent the differences in these graphs is to be expected, but I'm sure that there will be a host of far more interesting comparisons in the months ahead.

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QR Codes in Harrods

From mobile stairs to mobile phones, Harrods uses QR codes (via All About Mobile Life). The Times describe them as 'pioneering' the technology...really? Pioneering? Personally I have had a QR T-shirt for over six months, and whilst mine only advertises my blog, it is not really that much of a leap to advertise your rather large shop.

Whilst I think QR codes have been around far too many years to describe any part of the UK's slow embrace as 'pioneering', it is nice that it is starting to make a few stories. I love the potential of QR codes to connect the real world to the online world, and any news is good news.


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Alexa changed its ranking system: I'm a winner!

Alexa is an often criticised ranking of web sites, with the criticism largely based on the use of the Alexa toolbar as a source of data. The use of the toolbar data skewed the ranking in favour of those sites visited by internet marketers and search engine optimisers, those who installed the toolbar, rather than the average user. Alexa's big news, which everyone reported yesterday (e.g., Mashable, TechCrunch), is that they are now using additional data sources, although what they are is not very clear in their announcement.

Obviously with any change in the ranking system there will be winners and losers, and those who win are less likely to complain than those who lose. Personally I think the new Alexa rankings are a HUGE step forward. This conclusion is based solely on the increase in my own personal ranking. Back in January I noted that the Alexa ranking for Webometric Thoughts was 3,816,072. Today my Alexa ranking is 1,607,649 (1,389,032 for the 1 week average). Breaking into the top one million suddenly seems much easier.

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Google is biased towards geeks?

We are all aware that Google are constantly tweaking their ranking algorithm, and we all Google ourselves occasionally to see where we are coming. Today John Battelle reports that he is top 'John' on Google, proof if it were ever needed that Google is far from perfect. Whilst the introduction of PageRank revolutionised the search industry, John Battelle's rise up the search ranking shows what happens if we confuse those who publish on the web and those who search the web.

Personally, with a rather popular (or is that common??) name, I am just pleased to find Webometric Thoughts makes it on the front page for 'David Stuart', currently number six, but occasionally falling onto the third or fourth page of results.

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Time for Blogging

For the last week I have pretty much pushed the internet to one side as I prepared for my viva. Whilst I kept up with most of my emails, the blog feeds were forgotten and the news sites were left unread. Whilst there is not a lot you can do in preparation for a viva, you feel as though you should be doing something and you know that it's not surfing the web (even for the defence of a webometrics thesis). There has been a lot of talk recently about blogger stress in the 24/7 world of the internet, and whilst not blogging doesn't keep me awake at night, I must admit that I approach tackling a week's worth of news stories with some trepidation. Should I just ignore the last week? Or should I work through the backlog of feeds and cover those stories that are of interest to me?

The answer lies very much in the purpose of the blog. Is it news, opinion, or an aide memoire? Mine is primarily opinion and an aide memoire, and whilst the news value may suffer as the stories are now days old, the other facets continue to be here comes a day of lots of blog posts.


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Saturday, 12 April 2008

Suicide and the Internet: Some flaws in the study

Webometric investigations rarely gain mainstream interest, yesterday, however, one did: A content analysis of the top 10 sites, on the four major search engines, for 12 searches relating to suicide. This highlighted the large number of hits that were to 'dedicated suicide sites' (e.g.. pro-suicide, encouraging, describing methods, or portraying suicide in fashionable terms): 90 out of 480 hits. Unsurprisingly this gained the interest of numerous news sites including the BBC. There are, however, a number of problems with the study: not all search terms are equal, and not all search engines are equal. Whilst we all make sweeping statements about web phenomena, we should really save it for our blogs rather than publication in the likes of the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The main problem of the investigation is a focus on the information that is retrievable rather than the information that is actually being retrieved, which quickly muddies the water. Whilst the combining of search engines would initially seem to underestimate the scale of the problem, the propensity of users to use certain search terms would seem to indicate that the article has overestimated the scale of the problem.

The Google Effect
The majority of the statistics provided in the paper are based on the combined results of Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask:
-90/480 were dedicated suicide sites
-62/480 were sites forbidding suicide
-59/480 were sites discouraging suicide
However, almost 70% of searches use Google, which as the results show has the highest number of dedicated suicide sites in the results. This would seem to underestimate the problem: whereas just under a fifth of the hits were dedicated suicide sites overall, for the most influential search engine this has risen to just under a quarter. However, when looking at the search terms used, we soon reaslise that the problem has been over-stated.

Search Term Analysis
Whilst the BMJ lists the 12 search terms used, gathered partly from interview data and search suggestions used by search engines, a quick investigation quickly shows that they are by no means used in equal measure. Of the twelve terms only 4 were used often enough to generate search graphs in Google Trends:
-sucide methods
-how to commit suicide
-how to kill yourself
And even amongst these four there was a wide variation in usage, with the overwhelming majority of queries being generated by the term suicide:

A content analysis of Google's 'suicide' results
Below are the top ten links I received when looking at the global results from for the term 'suicide', and how I would classify them. Whilst the BMJ study emphasises that is doesn't restrict the results to the UK, it does not mention whether it uses or I have used as, unless you ask it otherwise, will redirect British users to
-Miscellaneous - Wikipedia's suicide page
-Against suicide - this first
-Against suicide -
-Academic or policy site - Mind fact sheet
-Academic or policy site - Stanford encyclopaedia of philosophy
-Prevention or support site - Kids Health answers and advice -suicide
-Prevention or support site - Problems of life: Suicide
-Not relevant - Facebook suicide: the end of a virtual life
-Prevention or support site - Depression and suicide in men
-Prevention or support site- BBC: Health conditions: Suicide
Whilst classification is notoriously difficult to get agreement on, none of these sites could be considered the sort of 'dedicated suicide sites' that will spread panic through middle-England.

I have no doubt that there are plenty of sites on the web that encourage suicide, but before we start a panic we need to have a greater understanding of how people are searching on the topic of suicide when they are feeling suicidal. We can't just lump together the findings of different searches on different search engines and say that statistically we have a problem.

The most popular search on the most popular search engine on the topic of suicide does not find any 'dedicated suicide sites'.

The original BMJ article:
Biddle, L., Donovan, J., Hawton, K., Kapur, N., & Gunnell, D. (2008). Suicide and the internet. British Medical Journal, 336(12 April 2008), p. 800-802.
Can be found here.

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Thursday, 10 April 2008

My New Amazon Store: Currently with fairly empty shelves

Whilst I tend to read a lot around the subject of web 2.0, as well as the web and webometrics generally, it is a rare occassion when I mention these books in the blog; primarily because this is not meant to be a book review site. However, after noticing the Amazon Bookshop of the Online Journalism Blog I decided to include one, after all some people like to have books recommended to them and the whole process only took about 20 mins (most of which was getting the colour scheme to match).

At the moment only a couple of books have been added, but I will add more under a wider range of relevant categories when I get time. If you do buy through the shop it generates a small commission, although I don't think you need to worry that either the money will go to my head, or I will add it to my $2.30 from AdSense and jet off around the world polluting the environment.

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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

iPlayer on the Wii: Now where should I put my Wii?

The BBC's iPlayer can now be streamed on the Wii, currently through the Opera browser, but eventually with its own channel. Whilst the public will generally welcome the move, the ISPs will continue their whinging after selling packages that they can't afford honour properly. Suggestions from the ISPs that the BBC should help pay for the rising costs are idiotic; services like the iPlayer will help push the UK's internet infrastructure to higher standards and shouldn't be penalised.

My own problems with the iPlayer will be less costly than it will be for the ISPs. My biggest problem is that I don't know where to put my Wii now. I currently can't get the iPlayer on my TV as the files refuse to be routed via the Netgear EVA 700, but at the same time I like my current PC/Wii all-in-one set-up. Nonetheless I think the latest platfirn has partly placated my wrath from when they rolled out on the iPhone before the N95.

Whilst I have found that the iPlayer on the Wii isn't as good a picture as on the PC, this is probably due to it being routed via a TVBOX to my PC screen, and will probably improve when it gets its own channel.

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Web 2.0 Video: The Truth According to Wikipedia

A video worth watching if you want an overview of the web 2.0 debate.

Personally I found that I wanted to slap people on both sides of the debate; not everyone, just the usual suspects. Whilst you expect a certain arrogance from the anti-web 2.0 group, the arrogance of web 2.0 enthusiasts seems a little contradictory. The truth is somewhere between the extremes.

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Tuesday, 8 April 2008

One Month of Google Ads: Am I a millionaire yet?

One month ago I decided to tap into the Google AdSense millions, hoping that the blog would eventually pay for its self. I found the estimated 50cents per 1,000 page views close to the reality, with my first month total reaching a total of $2.30. This about half the amount I need to pay for my hosting package. I therefore need to either double my page views or double the number of adclicks (whilst I could also start blogging on subjects that pay more, I wouldn't particularly want to).

The breakdown for the last month (according to AdSense):
Page impressions - 2,600
Clicks - 5 (paying 5 cents, 68 cents, 35 cents, 16 cents, and most recently $1.04!!!)
(The extra couple of cents have come through ads that pay a tiny amount per impression rather than click.)

What is most noticeable is how few ads have been clicked, or more positively, how few clicks are actually needed for the blog to pay for itself. The easy solution to getting more clicks is to put more adverts on the pages, or put them in a more prominent position, however, they can quickly become intrusive; personally I think my box in the sidebar has the balance just right. The more difficult solution is to increase my overall traffic whilst keeping the same adverts. Hopefully a steady increase clicks will come naturally with a steady increase in traffic, although not necessarily: yesterday probably saw the greatest number of visitors yet to Webometric Thoughts (absolute unique visitors still unknown), but no-one clicked.

I would think that if the traffic continues to grow at this rate, and people click on ads at the same rate, by the time of my one year anniversary Webometric Thoughts will be paying for itself. Not earth-shattering, but quietly impressive nonetheless.

UPDATE: This is reflection on my AdSense income rather than a request to click. Google has a number of detailed algorithms to make sure people don't get click-happy on their own sites, and a sudden increase in clicks does not result in an increase in income:
-5 clicks in last month $2.30.
-3 clicks today $0.00


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Monday, 7 April 2008

BBC Internet Blog: A blog in tune

Every now and then you read a blog post which is surprisingly in tune with your own thoughts and ramblings. Today that blog post was at the BBC, about the future of the mobile internet in the UK. Unsurprisingly, for a post on the technological future, it was more questions than answers:
-What device will win? Mobile phone, e-readers, £100 Linux laptops, or full blown notebooks?
-And most importantly, what sort of role the BBC can play?

I doubt whether any single device will 'win', instead it will be a case of horses for courses. Different people have different needs, and people will make the selection that meets their needs. For me this is the mobile phone, and the £100 Linux laptop (although the Eee PC was £200); if I can get the laptop out I do, but as I am walking down the street it's not particularly practical. For others it may be a mobile phone and an e-reader, or they may only want to access the mobile internet on a full blown notebook.

Whilst the market seems to be quite good at getting the devices into people's hands these days, I think the BBC could provide a service in telling people how to use them more productively. These day the average person has a mobile phone and a computer whose potential is barely touched. What proportion of users are aware of the additional programs and services they can download to their phones, or the information that they could get from the web with a bit of basic programming? The BBC could play an important role in raising the technological-literacy of the masses rather than the few; surely it is the only organisation with the capacity to do it.

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Sunday, 6 April 2008

Search Engine Keywords

It's always interesting to note the keywords that drive traffic to your site. My new personal favourite drove someone to my site yesterday:
i poked my crazy ex girlfriend on facebook, is it harrasment
A far more interesting question that some of the others that have sent traffic to my site over the months (e.g., when is the wii fit out?, how do I get sky sports on my phone?). I wonder what the stangest question is that would find my blog on the Google frontpage?


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Average photos per Flickr Member: ZERO

67% of Flickr members have no photos! Whilst Lotka's law teaches us that the majority of contributors to a community make very few contributions, I was still surprised at the number of members with no photos; after all, I am not talking visitors to the site, but those who have taken the trouble to join. What is the point of joining Flickr if you are not going to put photos on the site?

Data was collected about the number of photos for 324 randomly selected users. 216 had no photos, an additional 58 had less than 20, with only 50 having over 20:

Really I should have a look at whether these missing users are active in other ways, (e.g., members of groups, leavers of comments), but this was little more than an aside as I spend my time messing about with Python. I have now loaded Python on my main computer as well as my Eee PC, and can barely believe how easy it is!

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Friday, 4 April 2008

Twittering Egotists, Spammers, Reciprocators

Despite only ever posting two tweets, I have nonetheless found myself with seven followers. Do these followers really care what I have to say? Of course not; I doubt there are seven people in the whole world who care what I have to say. Instead, as I have no 'friends'(whichever meaning of the word you take) on twitter, my followers (and probably the majority) fall into three categories: Reciprocators, Spammers, Egotists.

Reciprocator: Those who follow you because you are following them.
Spammers: Those who follow you in the hope that you not only follow them, but buy whatever it is they are selling.
Egotists: That special sort of individual who is trying to sell themselves.

As with any classification system the boundaries are not particularly clear. A Reciprocator (mine is the infamous Scoble) may actually be an Egotist where you have got in there first. On the other hand I am not sure whether my latest follower (Jason Calacanis) would be best described as a Spammer or an Egotist. Is he selling himself or his company? Whilst I must admit I admired the ingenuity of the first Spammer I came across, it is a ploy that only worked the once, and now I don't always look to see who my new followers are.

Digging, Reddit-ing, Stumbling, and Tweeting this particular post, should satisfy my own egotism without following 16,000 others on Twitter.

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Google Analytics Now Allows Aggregation of Visitors by Week and Month

There can be huge variations in the number of visitors you receive from one day to another, thus making it difficult to determine whether the overall trend is up or down. Google's latest beta feature is likely to be broadly welcomed as it allows the aggregation of the number of visitors that have been received over a week, or even a month.

The difference can be clearly seen in the two graphs below, covering the period from 1st Nov. 2007 to 31st March 2008 for my own Whilst an increase in visitors is discernible in the first graph (the traditional daily aggregation):

The noise makes it difficult to determine exactly how much of an increase in traffic there has been, this is clearly discernible with a monthly aggregation:

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Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Social Buttons: Which should I add?

After playing around with the Digg API yesterday, I decided it was a good opportunity to add some social networking site buttons to my blog; although, as with all things on the web, it turned out to be more difficult than I initially imagined. Despite there being lots of code, and advice, on the web, I couldn't get any of it to work. This may be because my blogger-based blog is not hosted by Google, but in truth I am not sure.

In the end I based my buttons on the simple html code provided by Technology Wrap with the images identified by Political Tech. At which point it all seems remarkable easy.

Whilst appreciating some people dislike these buttons, and I am not personally a fan of many of the stories that rise to the top of sites like Digg, they are nonetheless part and parcel of the web these days.

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QR Clothes: I am a leader of fashion

I have received a press release from emma cott to highlight that they are making it simple for people to have their social network site profiles embedded on t-shirts etc. in the form of QR codes:

It's worth noting as:
1) The majority of my site's taffic is driven by the QR code posts.
2) It's the first time that I have been singled out for a press release, thus joining the ranks of a million other bloggers.

QR codes have been appearing on clothes for a while, there is even a Facebook app, although emma cott seems to be trying to gain competitive edge by providing a range of networks and a variety of 'motives'. Personally I would like to be able to add my own motive and any URL.

I think there will be more and more QR clothes in the future, and my own QR t-shirt will look increasingly amateur:

Which is a shame as I got it made in October, and have barely had a chance to show it off over the winter months.

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Google Adwords: How new are those arrows?

Whilst checking that the previous blog entry had loaded properly, I noticed something new about the Google Ads (that no-one clicks on):

Two little arrows that allow visitors to browse through the Google Ads relevant to my site. At the time of posting this allows for users to see 11 relevant ads, rather than the restricted two that the size of the box would allow. Will this suddenly increase ad revenue? Will people ever browse through?

What really annoys me is that I have no idea if this is totally new, new to my site, or something I have just never noticed before.


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Programming Python on the Eee PC

Since Friday I have been spending a lot of time programming in Python on the Eee PC, the more I program the more I like both the language and the ease if having it on the Eee PC. Over at the Beeb Bill Thompson poses the question "Who will write tomorrow's code?", I suggested last week that the Eee PC (and other similar devices) may be the answer, and now I more convinced that ever.

Already I have been writing codes in python that use the Twitter, Flickr and Digg API, programs that can form the basis of numerous articles that I will never get around to's SO easy (with the possible exception of installing the simplejson library that the Twitter library relies on). Just wish some other sites would roll out APIs (e.g., Stumbleupon and Reddit).

So, do we all need to become top-class programmers? No. But if you can program, even to a basic level, the web becomes a lot more exciting and interactive place.

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