Tag Archives: social networking

The Buzz around Google Wave

GOOGLE WAVE: An analysis of its untimely downfall + Google Buzz

GOOGLE announced the closure of Google Wave on their blog after much hype from loyal Google followers. There has been much buzz as to why Google Wave was a failed project, but the pivotal reasons appear to be three-fold. Excessive hype and expectations, too many features for a single web application, and at the same time, not enough unique features to differentiate Google Wave from existing services (Facebook, Twitter), all ultimately lead to its untimely downfall.

The hype involved a handful of people being invited to test Google Wave and lead to several bloggers discussing it amongst themselves. After almost a year of testing and a plethora of blog entries, a lot was obviously expected of Google’s latest brainchild. However, there were still only a handful of people that actually knew how to make use of Google Wave and in an era of short attention spans and click-happy web-users, the buzz had just about fizzled entirely upon its release.

Google Wave logoThe problem was that for the average web-user to get to grips with Google Wave required setting aside a good period of time to learn how to use it, and for many, watching a video tutorial was essential. Google’s software developers even admitted that the service “takes a little getting used to” and that even they were still learning how to use it themselves.

Once Google Wave invitees got the hang of Wave they needed more people to be using it besides themselves in order to get a proper wave going. This proved to be difficult enough in itself, but perhaps the problem was not a lack of users, but rather a lack of appeal.

What exactly is Google Wave?
“Wave’s primary feature was to let users collaborate in real time, using an in-box-like interface that resembled a mix of Google’s Gmail Web mail service, and its Docs and Spreadsheets product. Each strand of messages, which could include text, links, and photos, was called a wave. Google launched the product with an API for developers to build extra functionality in the form of extensions that users could turn on and off” – Cnet News

I would argue that Google Wave had two other inherent problems. The first being that it did not offer enough unique features – i.e. things that web-users couldn’t already perform using existing Google and other services, and secondly that it tried to achieve too much at once. There also seemed to be a lack of focus with regards to what the product would primarily be used for.

To rope people into any new web service takes time and requires baby steps if you want to get enough people on board in order for the services to be worthwhile and developed further. The web-user trend is to stick with what’s foremost familiar and secondly to make use of the tried and tested. Although Google Wave offered several easy ways to perform familiar tasks online in real-time, the popularity of services such as Facebook and Twitter far outweighed its demand as a new web service.

Google has brought many great apps to the table that are worthy of praise and the Internet would not be the same without them; sadly Google Wave was not one of them. Until a viable market demand is found, the focus should be on improving existing Google services before unleashing something new to the online public.

A bit on Google Buzz

Google had another chance with Google Buzz – a web app released just prior to Google Wave. For those who are unfamiliar with Google Buzz, the service is an extension of one’s Gmail account – appearing below one’s inbox. It can be rightfully argued that Google Buzz is essentially a Twitter clone as it allows friends to provide status updates, embed photos and links, and to follow or be followed by other Buzz users. It now has a few Facebooky features too – these being the options of liking or commenting on other users’ posts and embedding photos and video.

Google Buzz logoThe idea was to discuss “the buzz”, but from many users’ experience the service seems to be primarily used as a promotional tool for embedding links and directing peoples’ attention to them. Facebook remains the popular choice for status updating and the sharing of photos and videos and Twitter is still the first choice for posting something of real value.

I do not imagine that Google Buzz will ever become as popular (or perhaps more importantly – more popular) than Twitter or Facebook – least not until it offers something different to what exists already. Buzz needs to be able to stand on it’s own, which isn’t currently happening with the ability to Buzz on Facebook or Buzz on Twitter.

Perhaps bloggers and Google Wave testers are largely to blame for the excessive hype and ultimate disappointment of Google Wave. Perhaps it was the product itself that asked too much of web users by way of time and practical use. Or perhaps Google Wave simply did not fill a need in the World Wide Web by offering something entirely unique and different.

Google can surely be forgiven for the failure of Google Wave and hopefully learn from their mistakes. With a history of so many other great services and the downfall of only a few, support for future developments should by no means be tainted by their recent faults. Keep the services coming Google; you ultimately never know what will work on the web until you try.

Sources:

Latest tech news and web developments

Witness This

Copy Compass: Best WordPress plugin

If you have minimal SEO experience, using Copy Compass essentially allows you to teach yourself SEO by learning to understand how search engines treat content on the web […] Continue Reading… 

MeetYourFriends: Anti-social networking

MEETYOURFRIENDS: The real deal or complete scam? There have already been over a hundred comments regarding MeetYourFriends — most of which were not favourable … Continue Reading…

When photo terrorists attack

PHOTO BOMBED: A collection of funny photo terrorist moments. Photo bombing is the art of ruining someone’s photograph by either jumping in at the last minute or by pulling a funny pose just at the right time. These artists are also known as photo terrorists and help to add that humorous touch to your picture perfect moment … Continue Reading…

Viruses and why they’re so profitable

PROFITABLE VIRUSES: Spyware, adware and computer worms: Antivirus software is becoming big business, not only because new viruses are constantly being created or ‘improved’ that can bypass existing antivirus software, but also because people are living in fear of getting a nasty infection and losing all their valuable data … Continue Reading…

Something Fishy 2 — A beginner’s guide to keeping tropical fish

A beginner’s guide to keeping tropical fish: Glass Catfish, Pearl Gourami, Black Ghost Knife, Pleco (Algae Eater), Black Moor Goldfish, Fire Eel, Angelfish, Clown Loach, Julii Corydora, Red Tail Shark, Fancy Goldfish, Dwarf Gourami, Bronze Corydora, Banded Kuhli Loach, Blue Ramirezi (Blue Ram) …
Continue Reading…

Edgar Mueller amazing 3D street art

3D CHALK ART: The great Edgar Mueller is a master 3D street artist that uses chalk and the street as his canvas to create the most amazing 3D artworks …
Continue Reading…

Feel Good Photos

LOVE: 8 reasons to feel good about the world and all it’s people. Feel good knowing that sometimes laughter can be the best cure … Continue Reading…

Teen dream machine

THE SAMSUNG CORBY: For nimble-fingered tech savvies

Samsung CorbyTHE iPhone has certainly set the standard for new cellular descendants with newer mobile releases favoring the larger, full-touch screen. There is also a major focus on making cellphones exclusive social networking devices.

Samsung has followed suite with the release of a few touch-friendly iPhone clones – one of which is called the Samsung Corby. The device is specifically aimed at the youth market and it’s easy to see why; it takes a tech-savvy youth to get to grips with it. However, touch technology is amazingly intuitive and it shouldn’t take long for anyone to learn to use a Corby – provided you have thin and nimble fingers and thumbs.

Social features
On the plus side the Corby is certainly a very social phone. It is fully Facebook, Twitter and MySpace compatible and can be used to upload content to a variety of sites, such as YouTube, Flickr, Picasa and Photobucket. One is also able to receive updates and live feeds via Facebook, MySpace and Twitter through a simple pop-up SNS (Social Networking Service) notification feature.

With a Corby, users can upload photos and videos and view such content on these sites through a feature called Communities. However, community access is only granted after an extensive disclaimer is displayed, which includes the clause that any content uploaded may be accessed and used by third parties. Be warned that there is a risk of being spammed with adverts once your personal details are divulged.

The screen
The 2.8-inch QVGA screen is large and crystal clear – something that Samsung certainly gets right. I thought the screen would get smudgy after a few hours of fingering and was surprised to find that it didn’t leave a single fingerprint behind. Apart from three buttons found on the front, the phone is entirely operated with the screen using one’s fingers and thumbs.

This may pose a problem for some as the Corby does not favour users with fat fingers. You have to use your thumb to type / touch anything comfortably and I’m sure that the average thumb is not as small as most of the keys on the touch-screen. A better option is to use a stylus (a phone-poking pen with a thin, touchy tip). Yet the Corby comes with none.

What’s on the menu
The Corby has an elaborate menu – two and a half screens worth. These all have a function and purpose but Samsung could have easily gone for a minimalistic approach by combining some of these. For example, there are separate synonymous icons for “Google” and “Internet” as well as separate “stopwatch” and “timer” functions. I guarantee that consumers would agree that less is more and imagine that a lot of the Corby’s multiple functions would go unused.

Apart from the 27 pre-installed widgets an additional 75 are available for download from Samsung’s online Widgets Store (not unlike the iPhone App Store). The Corby makes use of quad band connectivity to download content and browse the web, which is no 3G experience but is still sufficiently fast.

Nonetheless the Corby is easy enough to navigate and it doesn’t take long for all the mysterious symbols to start making sense. There does, however, seem to be a slight misunderstanding between the scroll and the zoom functions – often confusing themselves with each other. What also lacks is an on-screen QWERTY keyboard – making message-making rather difficult.

Other features
The Corby has an impressive memory and can support up to 8GB of external storage. Battery life is said to be 9 hours of talk time and an incredible 730 hours of standby time. It has a camera yet this is a mere 2 megapixels and has no autofocus or flash. It does have a “smile shot” function which is becoming all the rage – i.e. the phone will only take a photo of a person when he/she is smiling.

There are two unique features belonging to the Corby, namely “one finger zoom” and “smart unlock.” As the name suggests, one finger zoom enables consumers to zoom in and out with one finger, while smart unlock is a feature which enables users to unlock the phone by drawing a letter on the screen. One can choose from 9 letters with which to secure their phone from teenaged trespassers.

The verdict
The S3650 Corby would definitely appeal to youngsters that are keen on technology and consider themselves as active social networkers. It is also a phone for those who like to personalise and customise and comes with extra covers slanged “fashion jackets”. The relatively low price of R1500 implies no fancy stuff, but the wide range of features and downloadable content is certainly relevant to the target audience. Tech-savvy and mobile-intuitive traits required.

Related Reviews:
Samsung S3500: Budget Bundle
Jet-setting with the Samsung Jet

Scooping up the blogosphere

MYSCOOP: South Africa’s new blog aggregator with promise

WHEN the blog was born it was met with mild curiosity in the online world. Suddenly every web user had the means to voice their opinion and views and, in effect, have their very own website. Needless to say, the idea caught on, and there are now thousands of bloggers fighting for popularity and page rank on an ever growing blogosphere.

What was needed was an effective method of categorising the huge influx of blogs and creating order out of chaos. The result was the development of blog aggregators — websites that could track certain blogs and make them more accessible to readers.

These have become the height of entrepreneurial endeavour online, as well as some of the most popular stops for web browsers and bloggers alike. In South Africa we had the emergence of Amatomu — a South African blog aggregator started by the keen minds of the Mail & Guardian online. Amatomu fell in and out of use before officially becoming null and void toward the end of last year. The creators stated that the site had become too much to handle and are currently trying to sell the website.

Then we saw the birth of Afrigator — a uniquely African aggregator founded by a man named Justin Hartman. Afrigator has shown great promise and has spawned several digital offspring, such as Gatorpeeps and Adgator — a micro-blogging service and a South African advertising service respectively. Afrigator has proved to be extremely popular — winning a bronze award in the Publishing Integrated Campaign category at the second annual Bookmarks awards ceremony in November last year.

But with the untimely death of Amatomu there was a large, online shoe to be filled by a new, uniquely South African blog aggregator. Thus came about the emergence of my­Scoop — the latest blog aggregator to take to the rough waters that is the blogosphere.

myScoop logo

What is myScoop?
myScoop is the latest addition to the SA blog aggregator family and also operates as a social bookmarking tool. Created by 25 year old South African web entrepreneur, Nicholas Duncan, myScoop is showing great promise within the blogging arena.

“I use a lot of social bookmarking sites and noticed that South Africa is lacking in this department,” says Nick Duncan. “It was never meant to be a blog aggregation tool at all, but, when I noticed the downfall of Amatomu, I decided to give it a bash and out popped [myscoop.co.za]”

myScoop is also a great example of how the multitude of social networking websites available today are starting to integrate and merge. myScoop specifically makes use of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, OpenID and Blogger accounts — all of which can be used to join or sign into the site.

Nick Duncan is constantly improving myScoop and recently created a badge and ranking system. The site now has the ability to keep track of blog hits, as well as provide information as to what specific pages users are accessing on your blog.

The ranking system keeps track of what blogs are the most popular and which posts receive the most traffic within a day or a month. There is also a dedicated stats section that shows users how many hits their sites had on different dates.

“Right now we offer “live stats” (which is still a bit buggy, but all problems will be ironed out in due time). Once sponsorship is found for hosting, I will be able to develop greater tools for myScoop,” explains Duncan.

myScoop features:

  • Blog profile: Each blog entered has a profile displaying its latest posts.
  • Blog aggregator: myScoop has a blog aggregator that allows you to create a profile and add your blog.
  • Topic stats: There is a very easy-to-understand stats page for each article that shows users the daily clicks for the topic.
  • Community: The overall vibe of myScoop is informative and friendly, which is what all social media platforms strive for.
  • MyPage: Each member on myScoop gets a myPage area where they can follow others blogs and keep up-to-date with what is happening in their areas of interest.
  • Social bookmarking: It has a very easy-to-use social bookmarking platform that categorises and rank submissions according to the number of unique clicks each topic gets.

Unique features and future developments?
The development and functionality of blog aggregators rely heavily on user feedback, which is something that myScoop both encourages and is doing a great job of — by implementing ideas and suggestions offered by its users.

“I would like to make myScoop more community-driven … user input is absolutely vital in any website and I would like to let the actual users steer the ship as to where they want myScoop to go,” says Duncan.

In terms of future developments, Nick Duncan is constantly creating and implementing new features and aims to create a unique user experience: “The ultimate goal is to create something “unique” in a sense; it’s no good having two or three of the same websites floating around … I’d also like to create a platform where users are able to develop their own programs by pulling information off the server. [However] this can only be possible once stable hosting is found,” explains Duncan.

myScoop challenges
A major challenge concerning South African blog aggregators is becoming overwhelmed with online traffic and maintaining connectivity speeds. This is largely what led to Amatomu’s early retirement. Tied in with these issues is local bandwidth — specifically the costs of bandwidth and the lack of it in SA.

“There are a number of factors that hamper the snow-balling effect we all would like to see when it comes to our new startups, such as advertising, hosting and bandwidth costs, says Duncan. These all can limit potential growth, but I feel that, as a young web entrepreneur, staying positive and keeping the momentum, while keeping your ear to the ground and listening to your users, can ultimately lead to your success.”

I personally foresee great things ahead for myScoop and would encourage all South African bloggers join in on the debate and follow its development. myScoop is also a great example of a good South African online service and Nicholas Duncan is one of the most reliable and decisive web entrepreneurs I have come across on the Internet.

About Nick Duncan:
I started playing with PHP about three years ago, but have been into HTML since I was about 12 years of age. I am engaged to a beautiful woman and recently experienced the birth of my boy, Logan. (This of course hampers development time, but is absolutely worth it)! I have two good-as-gold step kids aged five and eight that keep me on my toes. I welcome all feedback regarding the myScoop project, which can be directed at nick@myscoop.co.za. You can also follow @Nicholas_Duncan on Twitter.

Related article: A Beginner’s Guide to Blogging

Social networking in South Africa

WEB SURVEY: MWEB’s Friendship 2.0 survey revealed social networking as the new way to “talk over the garden fence”

ON average, adult social networkers in South Africa are in their 30’s, employed full-time, and describe themselves as sociable and outgoing. This is according to findings in new research commissioned by MWEB. The Friendship 2.0 survey was conducted towards the end of last year among local web users aged 16 years and older, busting the myth that social networking is only done by youngsters. It demonstrates how social networking has gone mainstream.

Findings
Facebook remains the dominant social networking platform with a massive 82% using the service. Behind Facebook comes YouTube (32%), then MXit (29%) and Twitter 28%. The majority of people are using these services to communicate real life activities such as sharing personal news, gossiping and making arrangements to meet socially.

Social networking is changing the format of personal networks dramatically. Many people are now making friends and meeting potential partners online. The impact of social networking is also expanding personal networks with the average user claiming to have around 158 friends they regularly interact with.

“Social networks have really become the garden fence of the 21st century, and are used for very much the same purposes as community meeting places. We are at the end of the early adoption phase, which was dominated by young people, and social networking is now a mainstream activity enjoyed and used by all age groups, particularly those in their thirties.” – Carolyn Holgate, General Manager of MWEB Connect

Users in South Africa
The survey revealed that the average age of Facebook users in South Africa is 33; MySpace is 32; Twitter and YouTube come in at 31; and the youngest in the survey is MXit with an average age of 27. These findings dispel perceptions that social networking is for teenagers only.

Multiple presences
Many online South Africans are also taking up multiple presences using a combination of Facebook, Twitter and MXit accounts. To facilitate integration between these multiple platforms, these users link their various accounts to each other enabling visitors to their Facebook pages to view their Twitter updates and click through to their MySpace profile.

On certain social platforms it’s more a matter of viewing than doing. For example, 75% of MySpace users are only ‘viewers’, moving from one profile to the next. Similarly, 72% of Twitter users are ‘lurkers’, reading what others post. This may be because Twitter is still relatively ‘new’ and users do not have the option of accepting people who would like to follow them. Users could also be more concerned about what their followers may think of their comments.

Facebook and LinkedIn are the most balanced, with 60% of their users classed as “viewers”, who just view other people’s pages, and 40% actively posting their own information regularly.

Facebook Chat
The addition of Facebook’s chat facility/instant messenger tool has seen 56% of South African Facebook users ‘chatting’ to their friends on the site. “When we looked at who they are chatting to, friends and family were tops. Clients, partners and suppliers were the lowest, possibly because most Facebook users prefer not to befriend people they deal with professionally.”

Internet connectivity
The way South African’s are accessing the Internet revealed that ADSL is the connection of choice. “Some 48% of the participants are connecting via ADSL, followed very closely by 3G/HSDPA at 42%, and 35% via their cell phones using 3G,” added Holgate.

Online personality types
The survey results categorised respondents into five different online personality types. These personality types, vary from those who are reluctant to use the Internet and do not have an understanding of what can be done online, through to users who are comfortable using the Internet and indulge in potentially “edgy” behaviour, such as using a pseudonym online or using the Internet to find out what a past partner is doing.

Additional interesting findings include:

  • The research revealed that 74% of South Africans going online do so specifically to visit social networking platforms.
  • 16% of Facebook users in the survey are on Facebook all day, an additional 58% visit the site once a day or more. This means 74% are accessing Facebook at least once a day.
  • The computer desktop remains the most popular way to access Facebook (55%), but 35% are using a combination of their cellphone and computer.
  • 62% of Facebook users are updating their status, and 61% are uploading videos or photographs, and searching for someone on the site.
  • 16% of participants are using social platforms to promote their business.
  • 94% of the participants are using the Internet to access their email followed by 81% using the Internet for work related activities.
  • Social networking (74%) rated six on the list of online activities after reading the news (76%), searching for information (76%) and online banking (75%).
  • 50% of Facebook users classified themselves as English, 58% are male and 25% have parents on the social platforms.
  • 25% of the survey participants have met more friends online than they have in real life.
  • 24% have gone on a face-to-face date with someone they have met online.
  • 36% have used a pseudonym online.
  • 36% have used the Internet to find out what a past partner is doing.
  • 37% believe they spend too much time online and need to cut back.
  • 49% feel vulnerable to abuse by sharing their personal details online.
  • And 21% have experienced a breach of their privacy on the Internet.

TNS Research Surveys conducted the survey with a selection of participants of varying demographics to identify which social networking platforms are popular among South Africans and to probe what they are doing on the various sites. 401 people from TNS Research Surveys’ online panel were interviewed. All respondents were aged 16 years or older and the data is representative of the South African online population in terms of age, race and gender. The data was weighted to bring age/race/gender into line with AMPS figures.

For more information about this survey, indicative profiles of the five online personality types identified during this survey, and to see how you compare to the average South African using social networking platforms, visit: http://www.mweb.co.za/services/friendship/

– issued on behalf of MWEB

Related post: Web addiciton 2.0