Tag Archives: content

Facebook introduces Graph Search, a tool that lets people sift through its social graph

Facebook has announced a new search feature dubbed Graph Search, a service which is built atop the network’s Social Graph. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company has been working on Graph Search for years, and claims it offers something that no other service can. It is available as a limited preview right now for English audiences only.

Zuckerburg made it clear that this isn’t a Web search service, and that user privacy has been taken into concern. Graph search is designed to take a precise query and deliver an answer. While Facebook says users can only search for content that has been shared with them, it is possible to search for things such as “TV shows watched by doctors” or “Music liked by people who like Mitt Romney” or even “Languages my friend speaks”.

Facebook’s CEO says that every piece of content on Facebook has its own audience with most of it not available to the public. Currently, you can only search for content that has been shared with you.

The Internet isn’t just pipes; it’s a belief system (via @Om)

Draconian new anti-piracy laws that are being pushed through both the Senate and the House of Representatives are about more than just an academic debate over different legislative methods for fighting copyright infringement. They make it clear that media and content companies are fundamentally opposed to the way the Internet works. These laws are being promoted by media and entertainment conglomerates as a way to fight what they see as massive content theft, but in order to combat that evil, they are effectively trying to get Congress to take over the Internet — and trample on important principles like freedom of speech as well.

Finally, here’s an aweosme video sumamrizing the insane legislation:

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Take action! This is very, very bad.

The Rise Of Pinterest And The Shift From Search To Discovery via @TechCrunch

The current toast of the web is Pinterest, the visual pinboard for collecting and sharing content online. The “pinning” phenomena is spreading from its modest beginnings to appearing in national media outlets. There are over 2.5m monthly active Pinterest users on Facebook. A co-founder of the site has over 500,000 followers on Pinterest. Ron Conway (an investor in the site) remarked that Pinterest’s user growth rate is what Facebook’s was five years ago. Earlier in 2011, it was valued through venture financing at $40m and, most recently, just a few months later, at around $200m.

What is going on here?

Awesome medium-depth analysis of popular image bookmarking/sharing social media upstart Pinterest. Why is the site experiencing Facebook-like growth?

Well, for one, it’s awesome. I use it to catalog projects I want to undertake, colors I want to paint, images I want to print out and hang, presents I want to buy, or stylish products I love. Then I use those pins as launchpads to share other ideas with my friends. It’s like a little display case for all the things on the internet you like.

I’m still fascinated by the intense desire to Pin, though – and this article glosses over the “soothing” experience, to use one quotee’s words, of being an active Pinner. A few of my friends and I are now avid pinners; I usually pin about 100 things a week or so, give and take how interesting other things are.

The most fascinating part is how certain ideas, or memes, will become trends, and the trends themselves trigger revivals and squashings of new ideas. A popular pin may get pushed around various categories throughout a couple days, then die out – only to be rediscovered by some Board-hunting newbie, which can in turn trigger a rash of repins and responses from people who missed the trend at first. It’s quite an active, engaging ecosystem for images and ideas.

Still more fascinating, is the predominance of women and gay men on the site. Why would a site with semingly gender-agnostic functionality attract such specific kinds of people?

A friend suggested that the social networking effect – that is, the propogation of things that appeal to for example women, leads more women to join and even more women-focused material to be pinned – and while I think this is definitely a significant effect, I think there’s something deeper about psychology and gender going on here.

Do gay men and women simply enjoy organizing more? The prevalence of DIY/Organization/Home boards suggests an accordingly significant interest in the process of categorizing itself.

And this is my guess to why the reader described the process as “soothing”.

There is something very basic to the nuturing role many women and gay men take on, about filtering huge quantities of data (images) into functional groups. It’s empowering, both to yourself and to others; it’s expressive, as a curatorial artistic tendency; it’s fulfilling, in the appropriation of public images into a kind of “personal display case”; and above all, it’s a damn fun recreational activity, that fills empty moments of mine anywhere from on a cigarette break to waiting in line at the bank.

Looking at it from a reductive, evolutionary standpoint, my guess is that Pinterest triggers something very primal within us, something that hearkens back to a time when the physical world was as unorganized as our informational world is now. Combing through reams of noise, to find the single image that tickles your fancy, which then can be shared with others in your community, is not too dissimilar from wading through weeds for hours to find a single nutritious frut tree, which can be brought back to the family for sustenance.

But note, how it is quite different from hunting an animal for meat: the searching, the waiting for the right moment, the heavy and violent weapons which must be brought beforehand, the pursuit, and the kill – a process very different from gathering, which in contrast, seems very passive and observational. To use the author’s terms, the “discovery” of pinning is quote different from the “hunting” behavior of Googling something specific for a specific result.

What do you think of my psuedo-behavorial-analysis? Am I touching on something that sounds right to you too? Or is it just a fact of history that the site has seen such overwhelming response from women and gay men?

New in Google Reader: a fresh design, and Google+ sharing

Today we’re rolling out the new Reader design, and the Google+ features that we mentioned just over a week ago. Before the day’s over, all Reader users will be able to enjoy the following improvements:
  • A new look and feel that’s cleaner, faster, and nicer to look at.

  • The ability to +1 a feed item (replacing “Like”), with an option to then share it with your circles on Google+ (replacing “Share” and “Share with Note”).

Finally! This integration seems so obvious, I’m surprised G+ didn’t launch with it already in tow.

From the user’s perspective, it lowers the bar to sharing small stories, and makes switching from one app to the other more streamlined; for Google, it provides access to a slew of interesting data about readership, activity in the Reader, and desire to share with social networks, as well as valuable data about why and when people whoose G+ as their sharing mechanism. For publishers, the advantage is more subtle, but undoubtedly they would also benefit from a more integrated viewer.

3 Cheers for Reader!

BitTorrent and Netflix Dominate America’s Internet Traffic via @TorrentFreak

New data published by the Canadian broadband management company Sandvine reveals that on the average day Netflix and BitTorrent are responsible for 40 percent of all Internet traffic in North America. During peak hours Netflix accounts for a third of all download traffic, while BitTorrent is credited for nearly half of all upload traffic during the busiest time of the day.
Netflix is by far the most bandwidth-consuming source of traffic. On an average day, 23.3% of all North American traffic comes from or goes to Netflix. BitTorrent is a good second with 16.5% of the traffic pie, meaning that Netflix and BitTorrent together account for almost 40% of all traffic.

The most surprising – yet obvious – aspect of this data is the HUGE discrepancy between the upstream and downstream data. While the authors say Netflix and BitTorrent dominate the traffic, it’s really only BitTorrent boosting up the upstream numbers (that is, the amount of data you send to the internet, as opposed to the amount you download from it). The gap is so huge, it seems that would present an easy way to target torrenters – simply by closely monitoring the upload rates, especially during the night.

Of course, even if something like that were instituted, torrenters wuold simply design a new technology to circumvent it. If there’s one thing this data proves, it’s that pirating and sharing isn’t going anywhere, despite the mutli-billion-dollar industry that’s engaged in a constant arms race with it’s own customers.

Streaming Bits: Apple Prepping Movie Cloud Service via @slashfilm

This week marked the launch of UltraViolet, a new digital locker system that would allow users to purchase content in one physical or digital format and access it across all platforms via a cloud-based system. The service came about through years of negotiation and collaboration between major studios, manufacturers, and retailers, but not everyone in the industry was on board — Apple and Disney were among the two biggest holdouts.

We’ve now learned why Apple declined to participate, and it’s pretty much the same reason Disney did. Apple has quietly been working on its own cloud service, expected to launch in late 2011 or early 2012, and has been working out deals with studios to allow videos purchased through iTunes to be streamed on any Apple device including iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV.

“Digital music locker”? Gosh, even themovie studios’ metaphors sound dated. A locker? Really? That particular metal device is pretty ill-suited to convey the freedom of syncing and listening to your music anywhere you go. A locker? That idea… just stinks.

Digital Monopolies A Bigger Threat Than Piracy, Says Miramax CEO

Miramax CEO Mike Lang and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos gave a keynote talk at the MIPCOM conference. The two discussed the challenges they face in the continuously changing digital world. Both agreed that piracy is not much of an issue as long as you give consumers what they want. Digital monopolies, such as Apple’s dominance in the music industry, are a far bigger threat.

It’s the classic power struggle between goliaths: they start to see their users as liabilities, and accordingly treat them with disrespect. Then another competitor comes along to gobble them up, in the opportunity void they created. Maybe the solution is to treat your customers like people, and cater to what they want?

Clinging To Friction: Some Thoughts On Facebook’s New Features

Take Facebook’s recently-launched music integration, for example. Right now as I stare at my Ticker, I’m seeing a stream of songs that my friends are listening to. Sometimes I’ve never heard of the song. Sometimes I have. Sometimes I really like the song. And, almost always, my immediate impulse is neither to ‘Like’ their update nor to start listening to that song myself. I usually just shrug my shoulders.

The fundamental issue is that there’s no context or emphasis around any of these posts. I see song after song scroll by, and I don’t know which ones are actually important to my friends. I don’t know which are the tracks they love — and which are the tracks they left playing as they stepped away to grab lunch. And, as more applications and sites begin syndicating into the Ticker, I’m going to run into the same problem. I won’t know which news articles my friends have endorsed, and which ones they just happened to click on because they saw a link in Twitter. And there’s just so much stuff.

The Wall Street Journal is rethinking distribution of its content…on Facebook

With WSJ Social, the Journal is purposely “navigating the content within the app around people,” Baratz told me, and making “every user an editor”; the app, in large part, she says, is about “elevating the role of people as curators of content.” The end result: “When you walk into the app, you have this very curated publication,” Baratz says — one that could, if done right, provide users with a nice mix of personalization and serendipity.

There’s a competitive element to the app, as well. WSJ Social ranks each of the app’s user-editors on a leaderboard according to the number of people that have added those editors to their editor lists. The plan is to reward top editors over time — the reward after the first month being, potentially, a WSJ stipple portrait of the winners. “We really want to show that it’s not a game,” Baratz says. “We really think that these people are curators,” doing important distributive work that, at scale, could prove immensely valuable to the WSJ — and prizes are meant to acknowledge that.