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Archive for the ‘Internet publishing’ Category

Source: my-trivia.net

Well this post marks the last of my mandated #wedm class blog posts. It’s been a blast. Please check in here every now and then as i will still blog periodically about things that i love / annoy me about the interwebs. Let me leave you with a list of things i have learned during this assignment.

1. I am hopeless at blogging every week. I would love to be a paid blogger or writer but i need some serious discipline knocked into me before i can achieve that!

2. People do a lot of dumb shit on the internet. It annoys me.

3. There are a lot of untapped resources out there – in this class i have learned all about Google Reader, Tumblr, Creative Commons, and what the hell Guilds are in WOW

4. There is a lot more to procrastination than FailBlog. Thank you lovely classmates for sharing your top hits!

5. QR codes are really awesome and could be used for an infinite number of things! For those who don’t know what they are, download a QR code reader on your phone or computer. A good list is available here. Now you are ready. Run around and find a code. If you don’t know where to start, try the second last page of The Age. Using the software you have downloaded and scan the code. Voila! You have a live link open on your phone! This software is starting to get very popular in advertising campaigns and you can often spot barcodes included on bus shelter advertisements. Most recently i saw one on the temporary wall of a new development on Swanston St in Carlton. Google has also made it easy to create your own using their shortener goo.gl and adding .qr. Brilliant.

The first person to read this code and tell me where it leads wins love and affection!

And my final thought:

34 more awesome 404 error messages can be found here.

Over and out (for now)

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Source: theage.com.au

I have written a lot about my loves on the Internet as well as my dislikes but something I haven’t blogged about is my views on paid content. I was recently scorned by a fellow classmate (from another class, not the lovely ppl in #wedm) for my opinion that as a general rule I would not pay for online content. My classmate remarked that she couldn’t believe the Internet had been free for so long and that we were happy to buy magazines and books, why should it be any different for the net?

For me it is about quality. The Internet offers varying quality and my list of things I would simply not pay for and go without is about as long as a piece of string.

Fairfax has recently hinted that it is moving to paid content, a threat that made me rather annoyed. I currently read The Age online before getting out of bed of a morning. It’s much easier than a broadsheet to handle and its condensed content and layout make it much more morning friendly pre-coffee. I know that if I wish to read a more in-depth article or read those articles that have not made it to the computer screen, i can do so in the broadsheet edition. I am happy to pay for the broadsheet but why should I also have to pay for online access to substandard online content? I am a huge fan of breaking news but there are better websites I can hit up before theage.com for up to the minute breaks.

Source: wspdigital.com

Fairfax has on the whole, in my opinion, had a pretty crap take on the whole Web 2.0 developments. Nothing angers me more than companies who put out an app for iPhone or iPad and then charge for the content. I was pretty excited when i saw the banner ad for The Age’s iPhone app. The Age has long had its mobile content site m.theage.com.au, a special phone specific website that they think makes easier viewing on mobile devices. Unfortunately, my iPhone automatically switches in and out of the mobile content site which is very annoying when you have a phone that can handle the full website with the aid of zoom. Plus the current mobile site is badly laid out, hard to find specific articles and seems to only feature the articles currently featuring at the very top of the website.

Now they have made an app that is free to download but to get content you must pay for a subscription – 31 days of access for $2.49 and six months for $12.99. As this article by PC World argues, why would you pay for content that is currently free and accessible using the annoying mobile content site or the main page? Apparently the app will have extra content including photos and videos accessible for mobile device. This is not enough to tempt me to pay for this app. I have only ever forked out money for an app once in my life and it was $1.19 for a sleep app everyone was raving about. I used for a few months and got bored.

This is is exactly my argument about paid access. For me the internet is there when i need it. I am hopeless using prepaid services and always end up getting ripped off because i forget i have them. Quickflix went down that path with me and my magazine subscription to Vanity Fair now resembles a large tower of unread mags going back at least one year. Despite matching my reading habits quite well, i can imagine i will one day grow out of reading the paper on my phone, ending up having paid for something i do not use.

I am not entirely against paid content but if i am going to pay for something it has to be quality. I am happy to ignore those irritating pop-ups The Age is in love with, if it means a move away from paid content.

Rant over.

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I don’t do computer games. They bore the socks off me. Instead of sitting for hours going cross-eyed whilst wielding a joystick, i waste my time on the internet. I am a master of the procrastination surf. In a hat tip to fellow #wedm blogger Savvy Affirmations’ post on StumbleUpon last week, i thought i would round-up a few of my favourite time-wasting sites for your procrastination pleasure.

Source: failblog.org

My number 1 website for instant guilty pleasure is of course FailBlog.org. I have whiled away hours on this site and even contributed one or two of my own. For those not in the know, Fail Blog publishes user images and videos of ‘Fail’ situations. With the tagline “Helping you feel better about yourself every day“, Fail Blog never ceases to amuse and always picks up my mood. It’s only been around since 2008, but it won two Webby awards in 2009 (People’s Voice humour and People’s Voice Weird). It was sold to I Can Has Cheezburger and now boast easy links to the entire Cheezburger network, 47 different websites including lolcats, Failbook and Engrish Funny. There’s a whole day’s worth of procrastination just there!

Source: gofugyourself.celebuzz.com

Next up is the Fug Girls. Go Fug Yourself is the blog by Heather and Jessica, who use the blog to bag the crap out of badly dressed celebrities. For those unaware of the lingo, see the blog’s definition of “Fugly“. For the record, i much prefer the filthy version! The beauty of this blog is the bitchy acerbic comments. This recent post about Michelle Tratchenberg is a classic example:

“M.Tracht’s posture and the fact that the gown seems to be slipping down her torso makes the whole thing look like a tent. And if you can set up camp in it, you should never wear it. Unless it is a fur turban the size of a Jacuzzi. Then you should find a way.”

In the same ilk as the FailBlog Cheezburger sites is FML. Based on another example of internet slang, FML features short sentences sent in by readers outlining something shit that has happened to them. Some are hilarious, some just plain stupid. Readers than rate each others FMLs as either “I agree, your life sucks” or “you totally deserved it”, with a tally of how many people agree.

 

Another classic blog,  shared by parent friend of mine on Facebook, is Shit My Kids Ruined. This blog is a place where frustrated parents can relieve their frustrations at having their lives ruined by snotty nosed kids! I often visit this blog when i question my life choices as my mates settle down!

Source: shitmykidsruined.com

 

Finally, if you haven’t wasted enough time already, you can always hit up the US Apple website and watch movie trailers. Hours of entertainment! Just don’t blame me when your assignments are late!

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Source: arstechnica.com

Let me say something from the outset: I love elections. There is something twisted inside me that loves the frenetic energy of a good election campaign, the hint of change in the most base human competitions. I am no psephologist*. I love my elections for the drama and farce. Being a child of the MTV generation (thank you Bart Simpson) i have no concept of what elections were like pre-internet, when you actually had to engage in a debate for more than 3 seconds and sound bytes were broadcast nightly to the family wireless.

The internet is an election junky’s wet dream. The proliferation of social media sites and its predecessor, the good old anonymous hack website, has changed the way elections are run. Like it or not, that’s the reality of beast today. And thank god for that.

This election is the most mind numblying boring election i have ever had the (dis)pleasure of witnessing. Perhaps it is because i have removed myself from the party machine this year, but i am finding this election seriously dull. Most people would agree there is a severe policy vacuum and the offensive behaviour is out of control. Thankfully the internet is there to keep me entertained and amused in the lead up to d-day.

In light of this week’s implosion this week, i thought i would take a look at how election campaigns are fought online. Before i examine a few examples of internet campaigning backfiring during an election cycle, it is worth reading this little guide put together by e.politics. 6 Questions a Candidate Should Ask before Tweeting, Blogging or Posting a Status Update covers what seems to most people to be completely obvious: Would i say this to a reporter? Would i say this to an opponent? Is this TMI (Too Much Information)?

Politicians are a flawed humans like the rest of us, but it never ceases to amaze me how they can too easily get lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to using the internet. As these examples show, they should be even more aware when using the internet, not less, if not simply because tiny f*ck up can instantly be cut and pasted across the internet for all to see.

Source: 3news.co.nz

This week’s case was an absolutely classic. Wendy Francis (@wendy4senate), a Family First Senate candidate in Queensland, this week started a firestorm, tweeting this doozy: “Children in homosexual relationships are subject to emotional abuse. Legitimising gay marriage is like legalising child abuse”. After all hell broke lose on the site, including a classic tweet from @mariekehardy (At least I stand by my tweets Wendy Francis, you vicious, cowardly fuck. http://tinyurl.com/27mbrvm), Wendy removed the offending tweet. Sadly for Wendy the damaged had been done, with mainstream media going bananas. Wendy has since apologised for her “slip up“, offering a pallid apology whilst inexplicably mentioning the fact she had “given blood”. Luckily for Wendy, her party seemed unconcerned by this kind of behaviour and she is still on the senate ticket.

Others have been less lucky, who, after having made an online faux pas, have found themselves disendorsed and dumped before they have had time to take down *those* embarrassing photos from Facebook.

Source: theage.com.au

Hamish Jones is a sad example of this in action. During the 2007 Federal election, the Liberal endorsed candidate for the safe Labour seat of Maribyrnong posted a rant online about then State Public Transport Minister, Lynn Kosky, calling her a “bitch” and “f—wit” on his personal blog. Although many people had perhaps uttered similar sentiments of a morning when their train had been canceled, not all of them were running for a Federal seat. Hamish was forced to resign his candidacy, but not before The Age had trawled through his unlocked Facebook to retrieve this classic photo of Jones in Sombrero, conjuring up more of a uni student bogan feel, rather than serious conservative candidate.

The NSW Liberal has also disendorced another candidate in this year’s election for making anti-muslim comments on his Facebook site. David Barker has vowed to run as an independent after his comments that the Labour candidate was “a strong Muslim” and was helping to bring Australia ”closer to the hands of a Muslim country”. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Liberal party had this to say: ”Mr Barker has not conducted himself in a way that the Liberal Party expects of its candidates.”

I’ll leave you a piece published by The Age examining whether the mind-numbing qualities of this election has anything to do with the dumbing down of the election into 140 characters on Twitter. No comment.

*look this word up and use it your next dinner party. Sure to impress!

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Source: ning.com

Yesterday i got an invite to join a Ning. After stopping giggling for long enough to Google what the hell a Ning was, i discovered that other than sounding like something out of Monty Python, a Ning is a like a paid private version of Facebook, allowing users to create closed social networks. I will blog more about my Ning experience once i have had a bit longer to explore it properly.

The Ning got me musing on strange names floating around the interwebs these days. MySpace, Facebook and Friendster are all obvious names that describe the contents of their site. But there are plenty that seem odd, so i have set out to find out the logic behind a few that i use!

Any traditional marketing guru will tell you that the key to an effective business name is something that is easy to remember, pronounce and relevant to the product. What i find interesting is that internet seems to have throw out these basic concepts out the window. In fact a weird and wonderful name is often successful simply based on the curiosity a strange word elicits.

Source: nuffnang.com.au

Source: overthinkingit.com

Nuffnang is a great example of this (apologies to @stokely). Nuffnang is a company that provides advertising on blogs. According to the founders, ’nuff nang’ is actually Jafaikan slang for “Real Good or Real Cool”. Jafaikan, for those not in the know, is “the word on the streets of young London”. Apparently my time in London was hanging in old London, cause i can safely say i have never heard nuff nang uttered before! The gang at Nuffnang (the website, not the London youngsters) have provided a nifty glossary in case you ever find yourself in the presence of Ali G and need to communicate.

Up next is Spotify, a music social networking site that allows users to share music by streaming rather than downloading, getting around those pesky copyright laws. What i don’t understand about Spotify is its name. According to Andres from Spotify, the name is a combination of ‘spot’ and ‘identify’. Clever? Sure! But is it really effective as a marketing tool for a music site? To me it sounds nothing like music but more a research tool.

Source: mattijs.web-log.nl

Flickr, is another example of an interesting name that doesn’t immediately reveal the site’s contents. Flickr is the photo sharing site that allows users to tag their photos and link to millions of the user photos across the world. As someone who goes by the nickname Flick, perhaps i am biased in my hatred towards the name, as it confuses me greatly when someone is discussing their Flickr site around me. Personal bias aside, i can see what they are alluding to, with the flicker of an eye as being like photography or that you can ‘flick’ through photos.

Whatever you think of the name, it’s a popular site.  Flickr’s front page speaks volumes. As am writing this on Saturday August 6 at 3.30pm, it’s counter tells me:

  • 3,293 uploads in the last minute ·
  • 160,129 things tagged with morning ·
  • 4.3 million things geotagged this month

Flickr’s continuing popularity demonstrates that despite a weird name, if you do what do really well, a weird name will soon become common place, just ask Google or Yahoo. There are plenty more examples you will come across every day. And for the record, Ning means peaceful in Chinese.

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As an avid social media user i have started to notice the growing presence of new fad in online networking that i am rather puzzled by. My Twitter and Facebook feeds have slowly started to fill up with the most mind numbingly inane updates, normally reading something like “Scott has logged in to Limehouse DLR” or “Max, in Sydney Australia, has unlocked the ‘local’ badge”. These statements are not some strange trend in boring status updates, they are the latest player in an ever-expanding market of social media.

Source: foursquare.com

I first heard of Four Square months ago when i caught up with two friends who are key players in the food blogging community. They derided another Twitter user for the constant update of being ‘The Major of X cafe’.

The idea with Foursquare is that users ‘check-in’ at locations throughout their day, collecting points along the way. You can then ‘ping’ your friends to let them know where you are, as well as create to-do lists and make recommendations. The points are apportioned according to how many times you have visited and times of the day. With your growing points you can then earn badges and gain the coveted title of ‘Major of…’, which means you have collected the most points visiting that venue or move through the ranks as the expert in that area.

In theory this type of program sounds interesting. In real life i find it dead boring. Pocket-lint.com describes Four Square as “like Google Latitude meets a little bit of Facebook, a touch of Twitter, a dash of Qype and even a twist of World of Warcraft“. For me, it’s the combination of gaming and competition, in the collection of points and ranking system,  with the mundane of everyday life, that really turns me off.

The appeal of Foursquare for businesses is immediately obvious. You get instant exposure and access to, not only your customers, but potentially access to your customer’s online networks, an accessibility that includes a free advertisement, with links to your business and a potential rave review.

Source: blackberrycool.com

But whether we are irritated, or not, by the mediocrity of the Foursquare status, it is worthwhile to consider the potentially more sinister side of the internet that Foursquare exposes. The Age online recently ran an article titled How i became a Foursquare cyberstalker. In this article, author Leo Hickman explores the ease by which someone can search for nearby unprotected tweets and follows a random stranger simply by visiting the very same places the social networker has logged in to.

Hickman’s article draws you into the Foursquare world by picking a random stranger and to follow around London. With a few short key strokes and the power of Google, he quickly establishes her key personal details available on her public social networking sites. He follows her journey to a pub in London and uses Twitter and the pub’s live feed to make contact. Louise, his chosen victim, exclaims horror at how much Hickman has managed to gather about her, simply by using the social networking tools available to him.

Louise admits to him, it’s a “little unnerving, to say the least. I thought I was being very careful with what I was posting“.What Louise has missed in her Foursquare communication is that the site automatically tweets her location whenever she ‘checks-in’, allowing Hicks, who was not her Foursquare friend, to easily track her down. Combine that with an open and public Twitter account and you have a stalkers paradise.

For me, Foursquare is a prime example of why my social networks are locked down. Not only do i not want the people i follow to be aware of the very boring aspects of my daily life (Artcultcha has checked in to Flinders Street station),  but i prefer to be closely enough acquainted with my Twitter followers to recognise them in a pub if they ever walked up to say hi. Although a locked profile and tight privacy setting seems antithetical to the whole social media network, for me, it is the smart and safe option.

Source: thedroidgeek.com

Foursquare is not deaf to the privacy concerns of users. Hickman refers to Foursquare’s celebrity settings, in which the site allows plebs, like you or I, to follow a celeb without ever being given information about that celebrity’s specific location. A Foursquare spokeswoman quote in Hickman’s article stated, “We’re continually looking for ways to improve the sharing options that we provide, For example, we recently updated our user-settings page to create more opt-out options related to sharing user data“.

Well ain’t that nice of them! I wonder how many users were unaware, as Louise seemed to be, about Foursquare’s automatic update tweets about location? I always think about the argument for ‘opt-out’ versus the current position of ‘opt-in’ for organ donation. There is good reason why the organ donation lobby prefer the opt-out option!

According to Hickman, Foursquare is now pushing the 2 million user mark, which in the scheme of social media, is only a drop in the pond of the number of Facebook and Twitter users, however it was only three months previous that Foursquare was only at the 1 million mark. If it grows in the same way the other social networking sites have done in the previous few years it will soon be a force to be reckoned with, not to mention it’s potential for real earnings within the ever elusive field of profitable social media.

There will always be traps on the internet for those less diligent in their use of new media tools but i like to think what i lose in connectivity, i gain in safety. Yes, it’s a paranoid approach, but i would not be impressed if i was Louise, and was approached by someone who had used the clues left by me in cyberspace to follow me to the pub.

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Well after 6 months of floating around Melbourne hoping to find a shiny new arts job, i have given in and am heading back to University. Today is my second day of my first week back at Melbourne Uni and my first class for my Writing and Editing for Digital Media class. Every week i shall be blogging here about interesting things i have learned about blogging and the internet.

I enjoyed the readings for today’s class almost wholly because i read them on my iPhone on the train to Uni! Things have changed a lot since i first started at Melbourne Uni in 2001. Most excitingly what has changed is that i am sitting here in class on a laptop blogging as the class is going on around me. And this is encouraged!!

I hope you will enjoy my postings and please feel free to leave me feedback!

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