Permanent web IDs or making good web 2.0 citizens

These are the slides for a presentation I gave a little while ago in Broadcasting House at a gathering of radio types – both BBC and commercial radio – as part of James Cridland’s mission to “agree on technology, compete on content“.

The presentation is based on the thinking outlined in my previous post: web design 2.0 it’s all about the resource and its URL.

Interesting stuff from around the web 2008-11-24

Google map of London with Flickr shape data overlaid by Matt Biddulph. Used under license.
Google map of London with Flickr shape data overlaid by Matt Biddulph. Used under license.

The Shape of Alpha – using mass data to reveal the perceived shape of geography [Code: Flickr Developer Blog]
“Plotted all the geotagged photos associated with a particular ‘Where On Earth ID’ (a database of places and bounding boxes, which describes the spatial hierarchy between places) to generate a mostly accurate contour of that place. Not a perfect representation, perhaps, but something more fine-grained than a bounding box.” How cool is that!?

Neighbourhood Boundaries [tomtaylor.co.uk]
Using the Flickr shapefiles to show you where the world thinks its neighbours are. Tom has written a bit about it here: “Of course, it’s not always right, so Flickr give you the option to override the place they guessed, with a more accurate name, as you perceive. For example, a photo taken near South Bank might better be described as Waterloo, or Embankment. Over time, this database leads to a more accurate representation of the shape and boundaries of the places in question, comprised of thousands of people photographs. Flickr are good enough to release this data in the form of shapefiles.”

The First 100 Days – what past US Presidents did in their first 100 days [goodmagazine.com]
Interesting to see how the first 100 days appear to be a good indicator for the tone and direction of the rest of the presidency. I now know what all Presidents and PMs should be made to answer “what will you do in your first 100 days”.

The BBC have hired a full time MusicBrainz server developer! [MusicBrainz Blog]
Just the sort of thing we should be doing. Helps the Web, helps the MuiscBrainz community and helps the BBC.

How to Price Your iPhone App out of Existence [Safe from the Losing Fight]
There will be an iPhone app bust. The current prices simply aren’t sustainable. Either developers will crash out of the market when they discover they can’t make a living off their current prices, or the gold rush developers will lose interest and leave when they realize they can’t make a quick buck off the store. The developers left standing will be the ones who set reasonable prices for their applications.

Users, Twits and Cameramen Under Fire [Nick Reynolds At Work]
Wise words from Nick – who continues the good fight in the war to kill of the UGC term. It is such a rude and self limiting term.

Life in the Linked Data Cloud – Calais Release 4 Coming Jan 09 [OpenCalais]
OpenCalais is to release its data as RDF and join it to the LOD cloud.

Interesting stuff from around the web 2008-11-16

This graph shows five years of query-based flu estimates for the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, compared against influenza surveillance data provided by CDC's U.S. Influenza Sentinel Provider Surveillance Network
This graph shows five years of query-based flu estimates for the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, compared against influenza surveillance data provided by CDC

Google Flu Trends [google.org]
Google has identified correlations (very tight correlations) between certain search terms and actual flu activity. It’s an interesting use of the data – and it’s curious to consider what else correlates – good Wisdom of Crowds example.

Life in the Linked Data Cloud – Calais Release 4 Coming Jan 09 [OpenCalais]
OpenCalais is to release its data as RDF and join it to the LOD cloud.

define:digital identity [eFoundations]
A nice case study looking at what Digital Identity means and the implications of managing it.

BBC Programmes via Instant Messenger [Whomwah.com]
Very nice, and useful, hack from Duncan using the bbc.co.uk/programmes API to deliver content via an IM bot.

Faceberk – the anti social graph
From the mind of Dominik…

UGC its rude, its wrong and it misses the point

Despite recent reports that blogging is dead traditional media companies are still rushing to embrace UGC – User Generated Content – and in many ways that’s great. Except User Generated Content is the wrong framing and so risks failing to deliver the benefits it might. I also find it a rather rude term.

Graffiti

Newspapers and media companies are all trying to embrace UGC — they are blogging and letting folk comment on some of their articles — and if Adam Dooley of snoo.ws is right with good reason, he suggests that UGC might be saving the newspapers.

I don’t think it’s coincidental that this [growth in] popularity has come since many papers have embraced both the Internet’s immediacy (real time news is the thing) and its ability to foster debate and discussion with readers. It’s also come since major papers such as the New York Times have taken the locks off their content making most or all of it free online.

But depressingly UGC is also seen by some as no more than a way to get content on the cheap from a bunch of mindless amateurs, geeks and attention seekers. This view and indeed the very term itself helps to create a dichotomy between professional journalists and the like on one side and everybody else on the other. As Scott Karp points out:

There is a revolution in media because people who create blogs and MySpace pages ARE publishers, and more importantly, they are now on equal footing with the “big,” “traditional” publishers. There has been a leveling of the playing field that renders largely meaningless the distinction between “users” and “publishers” — we’re all publishers now, and we’re all competing for the finite pie of attention. The problem is that the discourse on trends in online media still clings to the language of “us” and “them,” when it is all about the breakdown of that distinction.

Sure most bloggers don’t have the audience of the online newspapers and media companies and there are plenty of people who, as the New Scientist article points out, are simply attention seekers. But that still doesn’t make them ‘users’ and nor does it mean that they’re ‘generating content’ anymore than any other publisher – indeed one might argue that they are less ‘content generators’ than professional journalists. As I sit here writing this post am I a user? If I am I have no idea what I’m using other than WordPress, and if I am then so must journalists be users of their CMS. I know one thing for sure, I don’t think of myself as a user of someone’s site and I don’t create content for them. I suspect most people are the same.

Bloggers, those that contribute to Wikipedia, or otherwise publish content on the Web are amateur publishers — in the same way that amateur sportsmen and women are amateur athletes, whatever their ability — until they give up their day job. But that doesn’t necessarily make them any less knowledgeable about the subject they are writing about. Indeed an ‘amateur publisher’ might well know much more about the subject they are writing about than a professional journalist because they have direct person experience of their subject matter. Whether that be a technical blog by someone who helps make the technology, a news story written on Wikinews or BreakingNewsOn by someone that was there and experienced the events being written about, or even the man that invented the Web. Are any of these people doing UGC? I don’t know what they think – but I know that when I write for this blog, or upload a photo to Flickr – I don’t think I’m generating user content, I’m not doing UGC.

It seems to me that newspapers and media companies need to work to understand how amateur publishers and others can contribute. Not that that is easy — the best bloggers know their subject inside-out, more so than any professional journalist — but equally there is plenty of drivel out there, in both the amateur and professional spheres. For sure there are dreadful blogs, YouTube is full of inane video and fatuous comments but equally partisan news outlets like Fox News, the Daily Mail present biased, misleading and often downright inaccurate reporting. In the week of the US Presidential Elections it is worth considering whether Barack Obama’s use of the Internet — including the role of amateur publishers, UGC if you like — helped dull the effect of such biased news reporting which has historically had a significant role.

The trick then is to find the best content, whoever has written it, and bring it to the fore for people to read and debate. To understand what it is about the Web that makes it an effective communication medium and to harness that in whatever way that that makes sense for each context. Considering the Web in the same patronising fashion as the Culture and Media Secretary Andy Burnham does, that is as “…an excellent source of casual opinion” fails to recognise the value that debate and discussion can bring to a subject.

Interesting stuff from around the web 2008-11-02

Nabaztag, a screenless, WiFi-enabled bunny, born again with voice-recognition and RFID-awareness in 2007. Interfacing the node between virtual data and the sensory world, Nabaztag fetches information from the Internet, flashes lights on its nose and tummy, rotates its ears, sniffs RFID chips, speaks 36 languages and understands five.
Nabaztag, a screenless, WiFi-enabled bunny, born again with voice-recognition and RFID-awareness in 2007. Interfacing the node between virtual data and the sensory world, Nabaztag fetches information from the Internet, flashes lights on its nose and tummy, rotates its ears, sniffs RFID chips, speaks 36 languages and understands five.

The Internet of things

Internetting every thing, everywhere, all the time [CNN.com]
It’s called “The Internet of Things” — at least for now. It refers to an imminent world where physical objects and beings (like the Nabaztag above), as well as virtual data and environments, all live and interact with each other in the same space and time. In short, everything is interconnected. [via plasticbagUK]

Some recent developments with the the BBC’s new artist pages [bbc.co.uk/music/artists]

Automatically linking artists and news on the BBC Music Beta [BBC – Radio Labs]
On many of the news stories published on BBC News journalists add related internet links. If a story covers a music artist, it might link out to their home page, their MySpace site or even a Wikipedia article. In MusicBrainz, each artist can have several URLs associated to them. By simply cross-referencing each link on a news story with the URLs in MusicBrainz, when we find a match we can confidently say that the news story relates to the artist associated with that URL.

BBC artist page also available as RDF [bbc.co.uk/music]
Either add .rdf to the URL but also with added conneg.

More good news from the open web

Freebase RDF service
This service generates views of Freebase Topics following the principles of Linked Data. You can obtain an RDF representation of a Topic by sending a simple GET request to http://rdf.freebase.com/ns/thetopicid, where the “thetopicid” is a Freebase identifier with the slashes replaced by dots. For instance to see “/en/blade_runner” represented in RDF request http://rdf.freebase.com/ns/en.blade_runner

Google is now an OpenID provider [Google Code Blog]
…but surprise, surprise, surprise they aren’t going to be a Relying Party. You can have too much of a good thing – I now have more OpenID URLs that email addresses.

…and Windows Live ID
At least in this case I don’t have an account so my OpenID count stays in check, for now.

But come on this is just silly – if you support OpenID but not as a Relying Party it’s just marketing.

OpenID usability is not an oxymoron [factoryjoe.com]
Chris Messina considers the four areas he believes OpenID usability needs to be improved: ease of use for developers and end users, branding and marketing, consistency and leadership.

Why the open strategy is a good idea [Matt McAlister]
Nice write up of why an open strategy is good – uses our recent work on artist pages as a case study.

Oh dear…

Greedy BBC Blocks External Links [blogstorm.co.uk]
“In an outrageous act of selfishness and greed the BBC has decided to stop giving real links to the websites featured in the “Related Internet Links” section on the right hand side of each news story.”

Martin Belam suggests an alternative :

“The recent that re-direct is there is entirely about measuring traffic in order to produce charts to show to the top management, and nothing about the wider web eco-system. You are what you measure – the BBC Trust isn’t interested in the BBC passing on PageRank, just in passing on traffic.”