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Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0

Trust and Social networks

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A couple of interesting articles about social networks that have turned up over the past couple of days. Starting with “Memo to Santa: Ask parents before gifting tech toys (by amy Tiemann on C|net) which talks about the current craze of Hi-tech, social network aware toys (the example given is the Webkinz; although just the tip of the iceberg) that are given as gifts to children of unsuspecting parents. Some of which who are alarmed at the consumer heavy content that targets teens and pre-teens.

Next there’s Social Networks and the Importance of Trust (by Neville Hobson on WebPro News) that references Bernard Lunn on Read/WriteWeb, “2008 will be the Year of business Networking“. Hobson’s article is interesting, if a little obvious. Focusing on the need for users to trust the provider of their social network; if there is a lack-of-trust perception, then users are going to go elsewhere. As I said, a bit obvious. As is the suggestion that people will start gathering around the network that provides them with everything they require. Especially as it seems just as one network’s popularity is hit by some scandal or other (privacy, advertising, abuse of user details et al) then another springs up and is the golden child for all of five minutes.

One of the issues that came out of the Blogs and Social networks workshop, was that while it is nice to be able to make use of the existing social network sites (facebook, myspace et al) that are already in existence, most of these sites are run and managed outside of the United Kingdom. Which means the various laws we have to protect ourselves from our data falling into “the wrong hands” (which, ironically, seem to be the hands of government offices and banks the rate that news stories come out highlighting data leaks, loss and mis-management) are not in place, and cannot be used to protect ourselves. Which is why privacy advocates are always complaining in the states; in the UK, we shouldn’t need to worry – our laws should cover that abuse of our data; but in the US, it’s a whole different ball game.

This does lead to a pointer that we should develop our own internal “social networks” rather than buying into an existing one; however, we have the problem that if we don’t buy into an existing one (myspace/bebo/facebook et al) then someone else will with our names (ie. cybersquatting); so is that a problem? and if it is, how do we monitor for it?

I am concerned a little about how important social networking is becoming, and virtual social networking at that. It is a trend, and one we are being forced to embrace, one way or another; or we will miss out. But how do we generate trust from our users? Are people going to be content to continue to stumble blindly into these things, will they see that we are part of the same organization and take any advice re: social networks, be they home grown or existing, as a rubber stamped seal of approval? And how do we react in the face of adversity to maintain that trust?

Like everything in the world, it is all about trust. You don’t have the trust, you don’t have anything. That is, and always has been obvious.

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Written by Mas

December 5, 2007 at 10:43 am

Blogs and Social Networks

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Earlier this week I attended the UKOLN workshop on Exploiting The Potential Of Blogs and Social Networks in Birmingham. It was an interesting day, a mixture of case studies and advice. But really, I hate to say, I didn’t come away with a feeling that I’d learnt something I didn’t already know. That’s not to say that I didn’t find it interesting. In fact, I felt that many of the things brought up reflected my own beliefs when it comes to Web 2.0 technologies; not least of which being that “technology for technology’s sake is a bad idea”

So, some the important points I got out of it were;

  1. Put the Users first. Address their needs and see if web 2.0 technologies are appropriate for the situation. Web 2.0 technologies are just another tool at the end of the day.
  2. Moderation and control. How controlled are we going to be? How easy is it going to be to take down objectionable content? Do our users need to be educated about copyright, liable and other applicable laws?
  3. How do we manage web 2.0 technologies? Do we develop or deploy in-house or make use of external, established companies (wordpress, blogger, et al) ? What implications does this have on our local laws (e.g. Data protection) and the amount of control we have over content?
  4. Official and endorsed vs de facto self propagating. Do we give ourselves an online presence on established social networking sites (such as facebook or myspace or bebo etc) or do we ignore and let other individuals (squatters) set up groups? Not all unofficial groups are malicious. (Examples were given of unofficial “student created” help groups where more senior students mentored younger students; allowing embarrassing “how do I use this item in labs?” sorts of questions to be asked and answered quickly and easily; as well as advice and other “life experience” type things to be shared, relayed and so on. Obviously, good groups are good for the organization’s profile. Bad groups… equally obvious – but is it better to let the bad ones fester or to pursue legal recourse?
  5. Are current acceptable use policies appropriate for a web 2.0 environment?
  6. IT Providers as “enablers” rather than being “negative” or “restrictive”
  7. Privacy concerns; how much information is shared (need ref: but remember recent BBC Watchdog show where they deliberately applied for and got a credit card based on the information freely available from one facebook user’s pages) ; largely down to education.
  8. The ever increasing “student IT literacy” rate… we must be nearing 100% by now. Unfortunately this isn’t always matched by the organization’s staff’s IT literacy…
  9. Many people respond quicker to “social networking environments” rather than “traditional email”

The day was intended to be streamed live over the associated website, as well as being fed into second life. This was a little less successful than they’d hoped (problems with bandwidth on the upstream) but hopefully they’ll get something more effective in place for a future talk/workshop as the idea is a sound one.

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Written by Mas

November 28, 2007 at 1:05 pm

Posted in workshop

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