Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’

The Buzzword Facebook Effect

August 18, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s amazing how the right buzzword can galvanise interest even in the dullest of topics. Think seamy tabloid headline meets uber-cool geek speak, and you’ll get the picture. This post is about a particular buzzword, and the effect its having on your life right now (even as you read this post), and that word is Facebook!

Given there’s already a couple of books and a recent movie, plus a brand new Location Based Service for Facebook, (ps. “location-based-anything” is itself a major buzz-phrase), it can be taken as read that the Facebook buzzword is having an effect like there is no tomorrow.

recently reviewed an eponymously titled “The Facebook Effect”, a book that chronicles the creation of this huge social networking phenomenon which probably plays too much of a role in your life, and that of half a billion other users worldwide. One thing that stuck in my mind was the vivid description of Facebook’s early growth across US university campuses. The strategy involved waiting until there was near hysterical demand for Facebook in each university, which invariably led to a geometric uptake once it was launched in that institution, and in turn, this created even more demand from other schools that were not yet on Facebook. This pattern of pent-up demand leading to rapid and explosive take-up of a new service or product, (also seen in the aftermath of Apple’s product launches), is something I like to think of as the “popcorn effect” for obvious reasons.

Other buzzwords that have an associated effect include the well known Network effect (as exemplified by Metcalfe’s law, i.e. the value of a network increases exponentially with each new user); also the equally potent Oprah effect, with her multi-billion dollar impact on businesses (mainly based on her core audience of women with a spending power of several trillion dollars per annum), it’s no wonder why companies and individuals will do almost anything to be a guest on Oprah’s show.

In light of these, it seems you can forget about the usual trappings of wealth like: mansions, private planes or even your own Island, because you’ve only truly arrived when you have an “effect” appended to your name, your product or to your company!

Privacy versus Mobility

July 30, 2010 4 comments

This appears to be a worrying trend whereby mobile devices are playing an increasing role in the erosion of personal privacy. Why does privacy not translate very well for mobile technology?

Starting from easily accessible and recoverable SMS text messages, to mobile apps that secretly send your data to 3rd parties, it would seem that most people are not really aware of, or concerned with, what goes on under the hood when it comes to mobile technology.

This is a topic that’s well explored in a book I recently reviewed for the BCS, entitled My Digital Footprint, which makes a good argument for why multi-capable mobile devices will soon become the primary source of information from and about the user, as opposed to the information hungry device they currently are. However, the problem with this scenario is that unless users are aware / in control of their own Digital Footprints, along with the capability to choose who they wish to manage it on their behalf (perhaps in exchange for some appropriate benefit); they will most certainly be ripped off by unscrupulous third parties.

Interestingly, this would appear to be a reversal of the usual “consumers are stealing our digital content” mantra that we have become accustomed to hearing from the content industry. Clearly, if personal data, identity and privacy really belong to the individual, as in “My Digital Footprint”, then such parties that solicit and use surreptitiously gathered mobile data are themselves guilty of stealing “My digital footprint”. No?

Perhaps the UK’s Digital Economy Act, and other such rules, should also make provision for individuals that wish to pursue mobile operators / advertisers / and other co-beneficiaries of such an illicit activity, for invasion of privacy and theft of their Digital Footprint. Or am I just barking up the wrong tree?