Damian Radcliffe

Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

Top Internet, Technology and Social Media Stories, Facts and Links: mid-November to mid-December 2010

In Monthly round up: Top Internet, Technology and Social Media Stories, Facts and Links on December 31, 2010 at 11:15 am

Stuff I bookmarked in the last month, and wanted to share lest it be useful. Comments, feedback and suggestions welcome. Like the Murphy’s, I’m not bitter.

 

General

The 101 most useful websites of the year 2010. –  a list which primarily highlights the lesser-known or undiscovered websites, so doesn’t include IMDB, Wikipedia or others you probably already know.

10 Predictions for the News Media in 2011 – the focus on mobile will continue, whilst the shift from searchable news to social and share-able news, as social media referrals close the gap on search traffic for more news organizations, will continue.

The 10 Hottest Private Companies in Tech

Internet Hijackings Prove Hard to Stop – “For 18 minutes in April, one-seventh of the Internet was routed through China— a major problem with no ready solution.”

The French government is to introduce a 1% tax on online ads from the beginning of next year.

Home Internet with Anonymity Built InA router that runs the Tor software prevents Web tracking.

Research from the US indicated the proportion of TV ads which are fast-forwarded is likely to plateau at 13% as the rate of DVR penetration slows. Meanwhile, fast-forwarded commercials still make a brand impact, as DVR users pay close attention to the screen to spot the end of ad breaks. 

Virgin Media’s new TiVo set-top box remote features ‘thumbs up/thumbs down’ ratings buttons, allowing the device to build up a picture of viewer preferences and automatically record content. 

 

Social Networking

17 Things You Didn’t Know About Twitter

http://yearinreview.Twitter.com/trends/  – great list of Twitter trends from 2010

Sources claim Twitter has raised $200m in a funding round that valued the micro-blogging site at $3.7bn, up sharply from the estimated $1bn last year.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge has ruled there is no statutory ban on the use of Twitter in courtrooms, but stressed courts “must be satisfied that its use does not pose a danger of interference to the proper administration of justice in the individual case”.

Twitter revealed it signed up 100m new users to the microblogging platform over the past year, doubling its user base.

YouTube users watched more than 700bn videos in 2010, up 50% on a year ago, with 13m hours of content uploaded to the site.

Facebook Soars To $59.4 Billion Valuation

2010 Memology: Top Status Trends of the Year

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was  named person of the year by Time magazine in the US.

South Korean regulators have given Facebook 30 days to submit details of plans to improve its privacy settings after officials said current arrangements are “inadequate”.

 

Convergence

Searching for the Future of Television  – “ Google and the geeks from Silicon Valley aim to revolutionize the 70-year-old TV industry. Conquering the Internet was easy in comparison.”

iPlayer stats for Nov continue to amaze – up 32% over year – 13% watch live – http://bbc.in/gr55U6

The BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service received more than 1.3bn programme requests during 2010,  with Doctor Who attracting the biggest VoD audience. The service also reported a record high of 141m programme streams during November.

STV and 4oD have added their catch-up service to Sony’s PlayStation 3, in the past month.

Apple said it expects sales of its Apple TV platform in the US to pass the 1m mark this week. iTunes users are currently buying or renting more than 400,000 TV shows per day.

The Sun published an iPad-only edition on Christmas Day, with editor Dominic Mohan saying: “Throughout the Sun’s 41-year history we have always respected the agreement amongst newspaper publishers in not publishing a Christmas Day edition of the Sun. However, this year we have seen dramatic innovations in the way that we deliver news to our readers and couldn’t resist the opportunity to break with tradition and produce this dazzling digital edition of the paper – direct to readers’ sofas on Christmas Day.”
 

 

Mobile

Microsoft said more than 1.5m mobiles running Windows Phone 7 have been sold in the six weeks since the operating system’s launch.

Users of Google Android handsets consume more data services than other smartphone subscribers.

 

 
Music

Sony has launched its cloud-based Music Unlimited streaming service in the UK and Ireland, offering access to 6m songs through the company’s internet-linked TVs, Blu-ray players, PS3 consoles and Vaio computers for either £3.99 or £9.99 per month.

A Spotify spokesman told the Telegraph that it “can’t commit to a specific date” for its launch in the US.

BSkyB’s music-streaming service Sky Songs is to close down after little more than a year, with the company admitting it had failed to establish a “large enough customer base”.

Industry body the BPI said three out of every four music tracks downloaded in the UK this year was done illegally, equating to 1.2bn tracks. The BPI estimated the total cost to the industry was £984m in lost retail sales.

Last.fm has dramatically narrowed its pre-tax loss, announcing a £2.8m loss for last year, compared to a £17m loss the previous year. Revenues climbed 74% year-on-year to £7.3m, although net liabilities climbed from £19m to £22.2m. £5.4m was earned in advertising and £1.3m from subscriptions. It makes 55% of its revenue from the UK, and 33% from the US.

 

Companies

Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz has said the group’s “greatest competitor probably is Facebook, more so than Google”, arguing social features are becoming more important to web users than search.

A Yahoo! spokeswoman said the group is “cutting our investment in underperforming or off-strategy products to put better focus on our core strengths and fund new innovation”, confirming the AltaVista search site has been earmarked for closure.
  
 
Meanwhile, in a blog posting, social bookmarking site Delicious confirmed rumours that it is seeking a new owner, but denied claims that Yahoo!, which acquired it in 2005, plans to close it down.

Japanese regulators have given the green light to Yahoo! Japan’s search tie-up with Google, despite complaints by Microsoft and domestic online retailer Rakuten that the deal would be uncompetitive.

AOL has acquired US start-up About.me, which allows users to create an online profile linking their various social networking sites, for an undisclosed amount.
  
 
 
Emerging Markets 

Youku founder Victor Koo told the Telegraph that the Chinese online video site, which is valued at close to $5bn following its US IPO last week, has been able to achieve rapid growth by exploiting the country’s “hugely fragmented market”. He added: “In the US, search engines are king. That is because everyone already knows what they are looking for. Brands have been around for a long time. But in China that is not the case. This is the first generation of people buying cars and fridges. Video is much more important. You cannot transmit the branding through text banners and pictures. On our site, we show one minute of advertising per hour, compared with the 12 minutes shown on Chinese TV. Imagine how we can scale that up.” 

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links for 2010-12-30

In Daily Links on December 31, 2010 at 1:01 am

links for 2010-12-29

In Daily Links on December 30, 2010 at 1:01 am

links for 2010-12-24

In Daily Links on December 25, 2010 at 1:11 am

links for 2010-12-21

In Daily Links on December 22, 2010 at 1:03 am

Top Internet, Technology and Social Media Stories, Facts and Links: mid-October to mid-November 2010

In Monthly round up: Top Internet, Technology and Social Media Stories, Facts and Links on December 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Useful stuff I bookmarked in the last month, and wanted to share. As ever, comments, feedback and suggestions welcome. Like the Murphy’s, I’m not bitter.

 General

2bn Internet users worldwide by the end of the year (a/c to the International Telecommunications Union).

Keeping up with social networking sites: How much is enough? “The academic in me feels like, ‘Oh, this will be interesting,’ ” says Zeynep Tufekci, a professor of sociology at University of Maryland Baltimore County who studies social networks. “The user in me goes, ‘Oh nooo, another one!’ “

MIT’s 10 Emerging Technologies 2010: “The question that we ask is simple: is the technology likely to change the world? Some of these changes are on the largest scale possible: better biofuels, more efficient solar cells, and green concrete all aim at tackling global warming in the years ahead. Other changes will be more local and involve how we use technology: for example, 3-D screens on mobile devices, new applications for cloud computing, and social television. And new ways to implant medical electronics and develop drugs for diseases will affect us on the most intimate level of all, with the promise of making our lives healthier.”

Chris Gibson on the LSE blog on the links between digital literacy and functional literacy:“…putting people online may also be affected by problems of illiteracy and innumeracy that are closely related to digital and social exclusion. Research by the then Department for Education and Skills in 2003 suggested that 5.2 million people lacked functional literacy and 6.8 million people lacked functional numeracy. More recent research suggests that around 20 per cent of 16-19 year olds are functionally illiterate and innumerate.”

Google

Google has announced a donation of $5 million for innovation in digital journalism — $2 million will go to the Knight Foundation and $3 million will go toward international news efforts

Google has agreed to pay $8.5m to settle a US class action lawsuit over alleged privacy breaches linked to its Buzz social networking service. In a statement, the group said: “The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users’ concerns. We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz.”

Google has launched Place Search, a new feature which returns location-specific results to search queries. In a blog posting, product manager Jackie Bavaro described it as a “new kind of local search result that organises the world’s information around places. We’ve clustered search results around specific locations so you can more easily make comparisons and decide where to go”.

Google third-quarter profits climbed 32% to $2.2bn. Their mobile ads business is on track to generate $1bn in annual revenue.

Location Based Services

US users of Facebook Places will be able to access instant discount vouchers when they check in to shops. Businesses will use a self-service interface to publish their offers, and Facebook will not take a cut from the deals. There is also a charitable component. Starbucks will donate $1 for each presented check-in to Conservation International, and McDonald’s will donate $1 for each presented check-in to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The BBC reported that Gap plans to run a campaign offering a free pair of jeans to the first 10,000 users who check in to their local Gap store using Facebook’s mobile application.

A Pew Research Centre report has identified small and apparently static user numbers for location-based internet services, such as Foursquare and Gowalla, added that does not preclude rapid growth in the future. The New York Times highlights that in August 2008, for example, 6 percent of adults used status-updating services like Twitter. By September 2010 that proportion had quadrupled.

Starbucks and L’Oreal have become the first major brands to launch mobile marketing campaigns via O2 in which texts are sent to users when they are in the proximity of stores stocking their goods.

Smartphones

YouTube accounts for 13 percent of mobile data report The Register with video streaming from all providers making up 35 per cent of data carried over the mobile networks.

An Analysis Mason study forecast more than 16bn devices will be web-connected by 2020, with smartphones expected to act as a portal to the so-called ‘internet of things’, such as remotely controlled domestic appliances.

  Newspapers

ABCes for September showed Mail Online enjoyed its ninth consecutive month as the most-visited UK newspaper website. It had a total of 46,910,754 browsers during the month, an average of 2,670,371 per-day. This was a 3% rise on August’s total. Guardian.co.uk retained second spot, up 5% month-on-month with a record 2,038,493 average daily browsers – a 16.2% year-on-year rise. Independent.co.uk, had the biggest month-on-month rise in average daily browsers, up 12.9% from August to 553,593.

 Australian ‘futurist’ Ross Dawson has created a newspaper extinction timeline, claiming they will die out in the UK by 2019 while hanging on in France for a further decade in part due to state support. He forecast there will be “a transition of what newspapers currently do to other channels of various kinds”, adding “(The) big overlay in all of this is we’ll get digital paper that combines all the qualities of print and the benefits of digital within the next decade”.

News Corp plans to launch The Daily, a tablet-only US digital newspaper, by the end of the year. in six weeks, It will charge $1 a week for the service.

Microsoft

Microsoft has launched a fully cloud-based version of its Office applications suite, initially as a test in 13 countries, before being offered worldwide on a subscription basis next year.

Microsoft said it anticipates selling 5m units of its new Kinect video games motion-controller over the holiday season. The NY Post reckons this could provide a $750m boost to revenues.

Social Networking

10 things about Facebook that aren’t in the movie – some useful stats c/o Experian Hitwise.

Skype has integrated Facebook‘s news feed and phone book into its service. Skype users can video-call Facebook friends who are also Skype users for free, while users can make a voice call to Facebook friends who are not Skype members via its paid-for service. Skype director of product management Mike Bartlett said “Rather than create social functions ourselves, it made much more sense to partner with Facebook. It’s a natural marriage.”

Electronics Arts announced it has agreed a five-year strategic relationship with Facebook, adopting Facebook Credits as its exclusive payments option under a 70:30 revenue split.

LinkedIn has added a product reviews and recommendation service as a way of increasing revenues. CEO Jeff Weiner said: “A big part of what we’re working to do is becoming the essential source of information for our membership.”

Internet Security Firm AVG has published a study which claims 5% of babies under 2 have social media profiles, 7% have an email address, and 81% of two-year-olds have a digital footprint. This is shown in a neat graphic here.

links for 2010-12-09

In Daily Links on December 10, 2010 at 1:11 am

Stories and issues relating to older and disabled people which have caught my eye in the last month

In Monthly round up: Older People and Disability issues on December 9, 2010 at 5:35 pm

1. Personal Finance

Several papers picked up Aviva’s quarterly Real Retirement Report which noted that the Over-55s increasingly concerned about the rising cost of living.

The Daily Telegraph reported “Pensioners are being forced to turn their hobbies into jobs as they prepare to work until they drop” whilst the Guardian focused on “Pensioners slashing spending on food in order to meet rising household bills”.

“Unlike their parents, the current generation of over 55s are facing the prospect of paying off a significant amount of mortgage debt as they move into retirement. Indeed, the practice of buying houses later in life and releasing the capital to pay for items such as cars, holidays, children’s university costs, etc, has taken its toll,” said Clive Bolton, of Aviva.

One-fifth of the over 55s still have substantial mortgages, unlike earlier generations, which tended to pay off their home loans by that age, the report found. The figures again underlined how the average 55-64 year old is worse off than the average 65-74 year old. Aviva found that pre-retirees’ mean monthly income is £1,313, compared to £1,374 among those who have taken retirement.

 

BT has launched a new booklet aimed at giving consumers practical advice on getting the best telephony package to suit individual budgets.

The latest in its series of Communications Choices booklets has been developed to help people manage their household communications budget and provides advice on what to do if they struggle to pay their bills.  The 20-page booklet, produced with support from the free-to-client money advice community, is available in printed format and as a download on www.bt.com/includingyou

 

2. Consumer

Commenting on the Consumer Experience the Telegraph noted that: “A generation of ‘silver surfers’ is driving a rise in broadband take-up”.  The report stated that “Nearly half of the over-75s, however, reported difficulties in using computers and mobile phones, while a third of 65-74-year-olds said they too struggled with mobile technology.

The number of broadband connections in Britain grew by three per cent in the last year, but by nine per cent among 65-74-year-olds and eight per cent for over-75s. Nearly one in six, however, still say they do not intend to get web access in the next year. A fifth said the same in 2009.”

David Sinclair, Head of Policy and Research at the ILC-UK, has written a report on the potential financial reward of engaging with the older consumer.  “The Golden Economy: The Consumer Marketplace in an Ageing Society” is available at: http://www.ilcuk.org.uk/record.jsp?type=publication&ID=80.

The report notes that older consumer market is expected to grow by 81 per cent from 2005 to 2030 while the 18-59 year old market will only increase 7 per cent. It goes on to profile older consumers, talk about their consumer experience (covering issues such as design, jargon, mis-selling and upper age limits on products and services which may mean that these are inaccessible to older consumers).

 

3. Digital Participation

BT has relaunched its free broadband Community Connections award scheme, www.btcommunityconnections.com  to help get communities online. Community groups in the UK can apply to get online free for 12 months if they can demonstrate how they will help people discover the wonders of the internet for the first time.  There are around nine million people in the UK who have never used the internet. The closing date for applications is 13th January and winners will be announced by the end of February.

The Telegraph reported on Martha Lane Fox’s “Go On, Give Someone Their First Time Online” campaign for web-savvy introduce friends and relatives to the internet for the first time. The initiative also encourages the recycling and refurbishing of old computers.

 

A campaign allowing people with disabilities a quick, simple way of reporting inaccessible websites, including by email or Twitter, was launched last month. Complaints filed using ‘Fix the Web’ are taken forward by volunteers, who contact the website owners and ask them to fix the problem. The service was developed by the charity Citizens Online: http://www.fixtheweb.net/

 

Public services should be delivered online or by other digital means, the Government announced in November: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/newsroom/news_releases/2010/101122-defaultdigital.aspx

In a report to the Cabinet Office, Martha Lane Fox argued that “shifting 30% of government service delivery contracts to digital channels has the potential to deliver gross annual savings of more than £1.3 billion, rising to £2.2 billion if 50% of contacts shifted to digital.”

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, responded to the report by saying:“This does not mean we will abandon groups that are less likely to access the internet: we recognise that we cannot leave anyone behind. Every single Government service must be available to everyone – no matter if they are online or not.” 

However Age UK in an article entitled “Millions of elderly people could lose out on important health and education benefits as the Government plans to put major Post Office services online”  claimed “that six million people over the age of 65 have no access to the internet, many of whom are already isolated and need public services to survive.”

We work with a lot of older people to get them on online,” a spokesman said. “But we have to accept that there are a lot of people out there who do not use the internet and we need to make sure that we do not further isolate them in any way.”

The first services to go online will be student loans followed by applications to schools, such as school meals; personal applications like driving licences; and benefits such as job seekers’ allowance. Eventually other services will be rolled out like child benefit.

Part of solution, according to an article in the Guardian, could be for customers to access the web in places such as Post Offices. 

However, “George Thomson, general secretary of the National Federation of SubPostmasters, said he was glad the government wanted post offices to be the place that people without internet connections would go to access government services. But he added it could also be a threat to Britain’s 12,000 post offices.

“I do have a problem with everything going online,” said Thomson. He argued that a lot much of the work of post offices was dealing face to face with people about their Post Office card accounts, green giros and taxing their cars, for example. “Those are important transactions, and the philosophy of everything going online means that despite the new products there could be a lower volume of work overall.

“Most post offices are also shops and they depend on the footfall that comes in. If 3,000 people come in during a week, they also buy their newspapers, bread and milk there. My fear is that, if you lose the volume, then the business model that sustains that disappears.” “

 

4. Telecare

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow has launched the government’s vision for adult social care, ‘Capable Communities and Active Citizens’. Telecare, re-ablement and ‘home improvements and adaptations’ are highlighted as preventative services with the potential to save resources as well as promote independence.

The Government’s aim is to shift power from the state to the citizen through:

  • increasing the uptake of personal budgets (30 per cent of eligible users by April 2011 and everyone eligible by 2013)
  • information and advice as a universal service
  • £400 million for carers’ breaks
  • preventative action in local communities to keep people independent
  • breaking down barriers between health and social care funding
  • care and support to be delivered through a ‘plural market’ in partnership between individuals, communities, the voluntary sector, the NHS and council services

The announcement is here and the vision is here.

 

Age UK provides easy-to-read information on equipment and adaptations in the home, available via this link.

 

‘Invest-to-save’ funding by the Welsh Assembly Government includes support for telecare and a single public sector broadband network. The £7.3 million investment is expected to save the public sector £14 million a year and some £64 million over the longer term. Details via this link.

 

5. Disability

A video demonstrating how to use the Refreshabraille 18, a Braille display and keyboard, built by the non-profit American Printing House for the Blind, with an Apple iPhone or iPod, has been posted on YouTube. A link to the video and a transcription can be found on the ‘StoneKnight’ blog run by transcription specialist Mirabai Knight: http://bit.ly/dIU26U

 

The UK’s first ever Disability History Month (UKDHM) runs from 22nd November to 22nd December. More information here.

 

The East Anglian Daily Times reports on a rise in hate crimes committed against the disabled – using figures obtained under FOI. In Suffolk over a 12 month period, these crimes were up 60%. See: http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/suffolk_hate_crimes_against_the_disabled_up_60_1_718573

 

The Department for Work and Pensions has published the latest statistics on the Access to Work programme, see here. Delivered by Jobcentre Plus, this provides practical advice and support, including equipment and adaptations, to disabled people and their employers to help them overcome work-related obstacles.

24,340 individuals were helped in the period April 2010 – June 2010. However, Access to Work has cut the range of products it will fund. Desktop computers, voice activation software and ergonomic chairs and desks are among equipment that will no longer be paid for by the government, but will become the responsibility of employers to provide. A report in Ability magazine is here.

 

Perhaps the biggest story in this community over the past month derived from Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s launch of a white paper setting out radical plans for welfare reform. A new universal credit will be introduced to simplify the benefits system, reduce welfare dependency, and make work pay. The new credit will provide a basic amount, with additions for those with children and other caring responsibilities, people with disabilities and those with housing needs. It will be available for working-age people both in and out of work and will replace many existing benefits.

Disability living allowance will continue, but will be reformed so that support is targeted on people who face significant barriers to participating in society, based on a new assessment. The government is considering whether changes to carer’s allowance will be necessary. The new universal credit will ensure that benefits are withdrawn ‘slowly and rationally’ as people return to work and increase their working hours. Under a new system of conditionality backed by tougher sanctions, claimants will be split into four groups depending on how close they are to getting back to work and support will be tailored accordingly:

  • No conditionality – disabled people or those with a health condition that prevents them from working, lone parents or lead carer with a child under age one;
  • Keeping in touch with the labour market – lone parent or lead carer with a young child aged over one but under five;
  • Work preparation – disabled people or those with a health condition which prevents them from working at the current time;
  • Full conditionality – jobseekers (there will be mandatory work activity for some jobseekers).

A Welfare Reform Bill in January 2011 will give effect to these changes, followed by a phased introduction of the new system from 2013. The announcement and white paper are here and here.

The Department for Work and Pensions has put together a summary of how disabled people may be affected by current changes which is available via this link

According to official statistics, three-quarters of people applying for the new employment and support allowance (ESA) which replaces incapacity benefit (IB) are being found fit for work after undergoing the controversial new work capability assessment (WCA), or they withdraw their claim before they complete the assessment. More information here.
 

6. Employment and Portrayal

In November The Times reported that “A former BBC journalist will become today the first presenter to take the corporation to an employment tribunal for age and sex discrimination. Miriam O’Reilly, 53, who was dropped from Countryfile, the BBC One programme in 2008, will bring her claim before a London Central employment tribunal.

Ms O’Reilly was told in November 2008 that she was to lose her post on Countryfile as part of a revamp of the BBC One show. Ms O’Reilly, an award-winning journalist who spent 25 years at the BBC, was removed alongside Juliet Morris, Charlotte Smith and Michaela Strachan, reporters in their forties and fifties. They were replaced by the former host of Watchdog, Julia Bradbury, then 36, and Matt Baker, then 30, as the show moved into a prized early evening slot.

Ms O’Reilly is claiming for sex discrimination, age discrimination, and victimisation, as she says she has not been given further work by the BBC after claims that she leaked stories about internal discontent over the removal of the women.

The BBC has been forced to address accusations of ageism, after the exit of older women such as Moira Stuart, 61, and Anna Ford, 67. Stuart has recently returned as the newsreader on Chris Evans’s Radio 2 breakfast show.

Miriam O’Reilly was dropped by the BBC One show Countryfile in 2008 .”

links for 2010-12-08

In Daily Links on December 9, 2010 at 1:03 am
  • Fancy following Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's grand gastronomic tour of the north of England but think it will bankrupt you? Fear not, we tell you where to eat the region's top food on a budget
    (tags: travel north)
  • (tags: iceland travel)
  • BT has announced plans to undertake a fibre-to-the-premises trial in Suffolk early next year offering download speeds up to 1Gbps, 10 times faster than the telco’s current fibre offering. Director of strategy Olivia Garfield said: “While everyday consumers don't require gigabit speeds today, it's important that we test the maximum speed capabilities of our fibre broadband product to ensure that it is fully future-proofed.”
    (tags: nga broadband)
  • Spotify and Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) are in talks to carry the music service to the cable company’s customers, paidContent:UK understands.

    The music service could be made available through Virgin’s new TiVo set-top-box. In the U.S., the TiVo (NSDQ: TIVO) Premiere box on which it is based carries the subscription services Pandora, Rhapsody, MusicChoice, Live365 and Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) – Virgin has not yet announced any such add-ons, although it wants to.

    (tags: spotify, music)

links for 2010-12-07

In Daily Links on December 8, 2010 at 1:01 am