12th Jun2012

Coursera, and the alternative education paradigm

by Dorothy

Hello World. Thought of the evening is that Coursera is a really great concept. Signed up for some courses some time ago, and they’ve just started to run some of the classes, which is très exciting. I’ve never been a fan of confining learning to educational institutions or set periods of one’s life, so the ideals behind this site really appeal.

Amongst the many rather random questions that come to mind after the first session (I hopped into the Introduction to Sociology course at Princeton)

  • What this will mean for “branded education”. Coursera claim to provide courses from some of the top universities in the world, and interestingly, one of the readings for the Introduction to Sociology course involve an alternative perspective on the admissions to the Ivies. Should education then be limited only to the few who can gain entrance, or be available for all (as what Coursera purports to set out to do)? Can education in the Ivies continue to count as another way to distinguish between classes? Who are the people who will be drawn to this site beyond the first few sessions where they are merely curious, and what will they get out of the experience?
  • Impact on learning and certifiable education. Will a certificate from a reknowned institution then hold the same value in the distant future?
  • Virtual learning and interaction. This mode of learning takes away all geographical boundaries, if made more prevalent, would disrupt the typical move that would entail uprooting oneself to live on a college campus, changing the rite of passage into adulthood from adolescence for those who choose to learn online. Is this as real as being physically in a classroom, or is it even sustainable? It is one thing to take a single course online, but to do so for four years? Can one’s attention really be sustained this way?
  • What is the difference between learning in isolation and learning in a group? Online participants can volunteer to sit into webcam sessions and introduce themselves, interact with the actual classes etc, depending on the modules, which again is mutually beneficial for both sides.

The initiative reminds me somewhat of the LSBF Global MBA which debuted some time back, but this one seems simpler, cleaner, and stickier somehow, at least for me personally. Perhaps those familiar with academics would also be amused at the option to speed up the video of professors droning talking about their areas of expertise. Three options to speed up, only one to slow the video down…hmmm. Not a bad feature. (:

Just out of curiosity, checked out some charts from Google’s Ngram viewer and it seems that the concept of sociology peaked somewhere around 1975, and again in the mid 1990s, before a continuous decline all the way to present, at least in books. Maybe someone can explain the significance of this more.

 

Another random discovery – for a little red dot, there is a study group already active on the course forum, though nothing really substantial is being discussed in the forum (yet).

 

 

The quiz at the end of each video was a nice touch too, I shall take it as a good sign that I must have digested at least some of the main points by getting all these questions right even after dinner and a small pint. (: I blame the Interwebz for our short attention spans and wandering minds nowadays. At any rate, it will be interesting to see how this progresses, and if the community comes into play or otherwise, as time passes. Better than watching TV for sure (although apparently our generation doesn’t do that as much anymore…or so they report.)

15th Feb2011

Social Media Week – New York; Musings.

by Dorothy

I’ve touched down right smack before Social Media Week New York starts. Jet lag could not keep me away from this. The cold at night, unfortunately occasionally won.

Too many good sessions, too little time, coupled with an inability to divide and clone oneself meant that one had to be selective about the entire week’s events in New York. The level of discussion was amazing, and listening to people who were really into what they did is always highly inspirational.

 

Several themes that surfaced across various talks that were of interest:

 

1. Culture & Digital Identities:

  • Don’t confuse Anonymity with Privacy
  • Mentions of the shift from hiding behind avatars, even in traditionally privacy obsessed cultures such as Japan
  • The question of the impact of culture on adoption?

I love how bits of culture still filter through online. As interactions become increasingly digital, there must be some discount to the 30-70% rule that body language contributes predominantly to non verbal communication. In my work, having a feel of the various digital conversations on the ground also helps – I’ve noticed that posts from India tend to be 2-3 times longer than other regions. Some social media landscapes are much more politically charged than others. We’ve found that there might be higher levels of sarcasm in certain markets than others. A huge bulk of Singaporean netizens might not haVe ReAchEd ThE sAMe MatUriTy LevEl of otheR PlacEs WorXX.~ (Note to self: If someone types like that to you. Run. Do not hesitate.)

Purely digital text conversation is full of nuances. How people behave and participate online is full of nuances. There is all this talk about digital plumage and how people create their identities online, and even how responses might vary to different avatars online (important for all those customer service folk). It’s been 2 years, I am still interested in how research in this field is developing.

The question posed was then, How can brands help people shape their identities, and share? Those who successfully tap into this would become part of the conversation, gain valuable mind space in this attention driven economy.

Another aspect of culture to take note of – organizational culture. Social media empowers a small number of people to change the culture of an entire organization. Like most change, time is needed, but now, all the tools are at your disposal. This is equally fascinating to me about how a dominant culture usually permeates those from a particular organization.

 

2. A Time Sensitive Idea Economy

One interesting thing about cloning was raised, about how the USA could learn from Chinese innovations. A mature culture will equate to more innovation, and it will not be the first time that copy and paste culture exists.

3. Platforms

 

  • Birth of Hyper relevance- Opengraph, the semantic web. Location based advertising and marketing.
  • Facebook positioning as a company to power the next generation of web.
  • Question: Who’s going to be the open graph of China? Since Facebook is not in china. Ans: Localized versions of Chinese platforms? They have the money and resources.

 

4.  Infrastructure, Government & Politics

Big Government and politics also constantly surfaced.  How people used social media to organize themselves in times of unrest.

  • Social media is now permeating up especially where government is concerned
  • Freedom of Speech – With the law finally catching on to the game and laying down the rules, I’m really not too sure of the extent of this anymore.
  • When mobile lines are cut, should an internet “kill switch” actually exist?
  • When platforms like Twitter are blocked – How to use other tools to mobilize people?

 

We heard first person accounts of how some used public phones to stay anonymous, when the sharing of information became their daily goal when dealing with the situation unfolding in Egypt then.

Infrastructure always plays a huge role in communications (do not get me started about the lack of reception underground in the MTA subways.)

  • In India, even the roadside florists are implementing mobile orders for their businesses. Free Wifi is increasingly common.
  • The Delhi Traffic Police Facebook Fanpage allows citizens to upload traffic offences (hopefully the posters were not committing one themselves when documenting this.)

….and many have never even gone to school.

 

Interesting discussions & amazing people aside, this should be the beginning of a good trip.

 

And now, allow me to indulge in some #iphoneography.

Hues of the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

 

Iconic.

NYC,Times Square

 

Advertisement v.s Consumer Sentiments:

Photobucket

 

Horses @ Central Park

Photobucket

 

Flag.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

 

NYSE; Wall Street.

new york,NYC

 

 

21st Feb2010

Social Media Sticky Behaviors – Google & Facebook

by Dorothy

One of the great things about digital is that it really helps to crystallize certain behaviors. This means visible, predictive intelligence online. One of the most sticky platforms still remains the ubiquitous Facebook, while Google is practically synonymous with search. While they both started off as very distinct entities, it seems that FB has evolved enough to actually start moving into the Search space.

Games

Ever contemplate disabling or deactivating your Facebook account? You know what is top of mind of users when they worry aloud in the FAQ section of FB about losing their data from Farmville (or any other FB game, really!). This, instead of losing all their friends and contacts. This was a few months ago, when Farmville concerns were right at the top of the discussion topics.

It will be interesting when the games and virtual goods segment in FB grows. The question then is how this will translate in markets like South Korea, where there is an entire virtual economy flourishing. It is also a market where other global players such as Myspace, Youtube and even Google have either had to bow out or simply be content with a smaller pie of the market share. Will FB finally have enough clout to go against the likes of Cyworld?

Another question is what happens when (and if?) app revenues surpass that of Facebook?

Zynga (creator of Farmville, Mafia Wars and etc) which has 230 million monthly active users was reported to have revenues of $200 million in 2009. The WSJ says Facebook revenues could hit $710 million in 2010, so there’s still some distance between the two figures. Still, if a fair percentage of return visits are due to the addictive FB games, it remains to be seen if the gap will narrow.

Facebook: Your One stop Internet Destination

You’ve seen the stats. Early 2009, Zuckerberg quipped the most overused quotable line about how “If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria.”

Then, he was talking about 150 million people. It is now 2010. Techcrunch reports that Facebook now has something along the lines of about 350 million registered users, with over 175 million of them logging in daily.

That’s a whole lot of visits, a whole lot of eyeballs, a whole lot of power.

Enough power to simply change the FB layout AGAIN without word or warning. I hated it, but have since gotten used to it, since there wasn’t anything much I could really do about it (deja vu?). Everyone seems to have gotten used to the fact that we are all experimental guinea pigs, sigh and get on with our lives. And we  still keep going back to the site.

And now, FB has its sights on Google, who apparently has 800 million visitors.

“According to Web measurement firm Compete Inc., Facebook has passed search-engine giant Google to become the top source for traffic to major portals like Yahoo and MSN, and is among the leaders for other types of sites.” – Source: SF Gate

You can also read more about how FB could kill Google here. The gist is that FB and Google are complementary for now (since FB is leading all those eyeballs to Google), at least, until unique visits for FB surpass that of Google. Microsoft last cut a (non exclusive)deal with FB in the last quarter of 2009 to include real time search results from status updates, but it remains unclear where FB may run with the search pie.

What are these sites to you?

Interestingly, at least for now, Google seems to resonate more with users in terms of the serious stuff – maps, translators, finance info, useful software like chrome/earth.. versus more of a slant towards entertainment and games on Facebook.

Many people still use the Google search bar as a place to type in URLs like Facebook.com (for reasons I can never fathom.. why they can’t type it directly into the actual URL bar is beyond me).

These results below do feature a bit on the importance of mobile as well – with the mobile related and FB lite mentions.

I’m still curious as to how all this will play out and how people will respond to all/any of these changes online… What will keep people coming back for repeat visits?  Also,  with all the talk on privacy and merging of identities on various platforms,  something to explore in future posts!

25th Oct2009

Edelman partnered with Brandtology Digital Brand Index (APAC) finally launched!

by Dorothy

Apologies for the radio silence here the past period, it has been absolutely insane the last few weeks but I have a good excuse. 🙂

So one of the projects I’ve been working on….the APAC Digital Brand Index!
Edelman, together with Brandtology (where I work) have just released a APAC Digital Brand Index spanning across the major markets in the region. To quote John, “8 markets, 800,000 posts, 233 tech brands…” and then some <!>

Please show the team some love if you can because while this may come under the umbrella project of the DBI, multi-market projects really could be mini projects on their own (as is often the case). A full story can be found on the Edelman & Brandtology main sites. (This is where you get the media goodies like fact sheets & media releases, so I suggest you check it out!) and more on John’s site here.

There’s been some nice coverage so far, from online sites in Malaysia, India, China (post in chinese), more India, Australia, to publications like Marketing-interactive.com. I’ve heard the team from China had some great respones from the media session too!
And of course, there are scribd documents, youtube videos all over ( you don’t have to look too hard.)

It is pretty interesting to watch how the news grows. The Google bots are clearly doing their job. Early Friday morning, a Google search returned some 3-4 relevant hits top of page, but that has changed significantly now for any of the major search terms one might use to hunt this down. Search also turns up hits from Facebook pages pretty well too.

Across other spaces, the word is alive on Twitter…. it’s nice to see the multi lingual comments coming in.



I think some of the main findings are already nicely summarized in the various fact sheets on the Edelman site, but of course there are a whole lot more that the data set could provide. Off the top of my head:

  • Online behavioural patterns of APAC netizens… ( 8 countries so far, 2 more coming out). This is for the psychology buff inside me somewhere. I’d really like to see if there are patterns of posting. Weekends are generally less buzzy (people apparently don’t post when they’re not at work?), with conversations happening mostly during weekdays. I can see all those questions about productivity popping up already!
  • Behavioural patterns in different channels – Twitter, unsurprisingly ranks pretty highly in terms of activity and mentions of Brands in the DBI. Part of me thinks that this is largely due to the ease and low effort needed to do an update (aka people are lazy. Easier to post on Twitter than write a full blog post).
    If you’re holding a smartphone, armed with the great Twitter applications and a mobile data plan, it’s easy to make a habit out of Twitter. Instead of calling up our best friend to rant about the lousy brand experience you’d just had, the whole world is now your audience. Clearly, we are seeing signs of that happening, given the number of rants that seem to originate from Twitter.
  • Virality of a Brand – is a certain brand name confined within a select few channels? and why? What’s the difference between a brand that enjoys a lot of buzz within a limited number of channels, as compared to one that is widely disscussed across multiple platforms, but in less depth.
    As a brand, which would you rather be and why? Is this what people call “reach”?
    Does mere reach ( my brand is discussed by 100000 people but each of them only talks about me once ) mean more than longevity in conversation ( my brand is discussed continually by 100 people, across a period of months )?
  • Between a brand and an iconic product – The Singapore data shows Singtel topping the list of mentions. This is probably correlated somewhat with the fact that they still (at this moment in time anyway) have a monopoly on the iphone market. It’s interesting that probably Apple is not mentioned as a brand itself much, but it’s hugely successful line of products – the iPhone, iMac, Macbook, MBPs, MacOS etc would probably generate a huge amount of conversations. Maybe Apple is an aspirational brand, but i personally hate the iPhone because I can’t type on it (yes, seriously). How does brand loyalty feature then, and does it even matter anymore? Would you place product function over the brand, or do you like to convince yourself that this is so?
  • Influencers – What is the difference between an online influencer who owns a blog, and say, someone who’s really active on Twitter? In a forum? In which forum? And how would you qualify this? Microblogging and forums clearly win hands down in terms of activity, as compared to blogs (Again, back to the fact that blogging is hard work!).

Endless questions of why, how, etc and I could really go on and on…

But really, if you’re a slice and dice data wizard, it would be cool to find out what else I could have missed! Any major angles?

If you’re a practioner in Communications/PR/Marketing, it would be great to hear what matters in your daily projects, what are the kinds of metrics and measurements that are important to you and why? How would any of these feature in your social media/digital strategies?
PM me or drop a comment here! I’m decidedly curious. 🙂

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11th Sep2009

More random thoughts: Excuse me, are you a phone?

by Dorothy

Iphone Musings
More little tidbits from some great conversation in the past weeks….

The Apple folk just have a way of making normal features seem heaven sent. While people are pumping R&D into increasing megapixels, shiny new hardware designs (wow! 10 colours to choose from), Apple have managed to make a 2+ mega pixel camera phone (that still seems a tad bit laggy if you ask me) into the TOP camera phone on Flickr. Also, they made picking colours seem so yesterday (like the first generation candy coloured imacs).  I can only imagine the gap between the ubiquitous iPhone and it’s other competitors from Nokia and Blackberry will widen, given that Flickr is coming to the App store. flickr_popularcamphones

Clear market leader!

Top camera phone is not interesting on it’s own, given that in most cities, within a 3 m radius on the train, one can probably spot at least one Iphone user. Given that most of them will probably be on data plans, this naturally leads to a lot more submissions from the hardware in question.

What is more interesting is that …on Flickr, the iPhone has been comparing pretty decently against the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi. Now that, is a flipping DSLR from Canon, ten megapixel and all sorts of other great features thrown in….but the graph below shows the slowly dipping popularity of the Canon Xti. Compared against the rising love from netizens holding an iPhone, Apple isn’t doing too shabbily at all.  The iphone is also the only cameraphone in the Most Popular Cameras mix.

*I wish the horizontal axis from the Flickr graph had some dates thrown in, so we could correlate that sharp spike with the release of the Iphone 3Gs, hypothetically or otherwise.

flickr_popularcamera

All this has some connotations for the camera market. Given that Flickr is (in my impression at least),  a great community of artists and photographers who range from amateur, semi professional to professional, I do wonder how product lines will evolve in future. What will happen to the cameras that are in between (neither the powerful DSLRs for the serious photographers, nor quite as handy and functional as a camera phone)?

On another note, I have my thoughts about the interesting correlation between handset monopolies (aka sole iphone telco providers around the world) and bad customer service. But I will save them for another day. 🙂

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09th Aug2009

Banking and Social Media #2 : Silence is not (quite) a strategy

by Dorothy


As a continuation of my last post, I’m looking into how financial institutions are communicating with their Web 2.0 stakeholders and managing the responding procedure, if any.

The previous mentioned Financial Times article mentions how research with the London School of Economics had uncovered two banks now using blogs to communicate in a much “softer” way than traditional marketing.

In fact, there are not just two, but a whole lot more.

Just to name a few from the Fortune 500 list, we have on Twitter

  • UBank (linked to the National Australian Bank,
  • Westpac Banking Group (not quite a big fan of the “Westpac help” username though)
  • ANZ Bankings CEO used to be on Twitter, but apparently he isn’t anymore (Why?)

And on blogs, we have Wells Fargo’s Join the Conversation. AOL Finance has a pretty nifty blog aggregator that pulls in blog posts around the web on the various institutions, like Bank of America, for example.

Over at this article,”Know Your Customers Means Knowing Your Social Media” some overseas examples of how consumer banking can approach the issue of delving in to the brave new world of social media are mentioned. As quoted,

Peter Aceto, CEO of ING Direct Canada who is personally active on Twitter, puts it, “Banking is our business, and we think our business needs to be wherever people are talking about banking.”

Silence as a Strategy

The questions: when do you respond, how do you respond, and should you even respond at all?

It’s true. Not every single thread, blog post, tweet or discussion online needs responding to. It would also be a near impossible task to respond to everyone. But that is no excuse for not trying. Silence is Not a Strategy, Even If You’re a Pirate.

By remaining silent while netizens raise their voices online, a few of the following situations could occur.

  • You appear unresponsive, worse, unware that anything is amiss.
  • You give competitors a chance to jump in and pacifiy upset customers, and lose the opportunity to engage.
  • You allow the situation to possibly spiral out of control.


Demanding Transparency and Truth, now.

We live in an age where the public demands transparency. The web allows for by-the-minute updates of day to day happenings, from the mundane (what you ate this morning) to the serious (breaking news of attacks in a certain city). If I can receive updates that a friend just had an amazing bacon and eggs breakfast, why can’t I receive a genuine response to a query or complaint online, on platforms like Twitter? Again, if your competitors are already doing so, won’t your customers be expecting that you follow suit? Jumping on the bandwagon isn’t the best way to do it, but shows some proactivness, at the very least.

With regards to banking, two areas immediately jump out- that of risk management/brand reputation and customer service. These are of course, generalizable to any other service orientated organization out there. With openess, comes trust. No industry needs to focus more on rebuilding trust right now. We need to trust our banks, as this article postulates.


Inertia, eradicated

And yet, the uptake of social media hasn’t quite taken this industry by storm, despite the powerful competitive advantages that could be derived from using the tools wisely. Inertia is a curious phenomenon that I can’t quite understand, in an industry that basically is commercially driven, and fueled by competition.

“Currently many traditional bankers tend to reject the concept of
social banking as a fad while others refuse to recognize or accept any
degree of threat posed by such new phenomena,” said Alistair Newton,
research vice president at Gartner. “Although bankers may see current
low usage by consumers as a permanent source of safety, this disregard
for changing consumer behavior with social networking generally may
mean that they miss the possibility of fast, viral uptake of social
banking.
” – Gartner Says Banks Need to Be Ready to Take Advantage of the New Age of Social Banking



I’ll end off by sharing some links, one which touches on a bit of Social Banking goodness and another nice link about managing your online reputation- enjoy!

Community Banker’s Guide to Social Network Marketing

In the Community Banker’s Guide to Social Network Marketing addresses social networks, user demographics and the role of social networks within the greater sphere of social media. Also addressed at length is the development of viral marketing programs, consumer advocacy, conversational marketing, metrics and common pitfalls.

NYT – Managing an Online Reputation

Your customers are talking about you — and the whole world is listening. How do you manage your reputation when everybody is a critic? Monitor – Manage – Promote.

“Social media for business now is life or death,” said Dan Simons, a restaurateur in the Washington area who closely monitors these forums. “You could open a business and do everything right, but if you’re unaware of these social media you will perish. Social media can take a business and put a bullet in it.”


As always, thanks for reading & would love to hear your comments or feedback if any!

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01st Jul2009

September – Looking forward to Social Networking World Forum – Asia

by Dorothy

A blog post to share that DorothyPoon.com will be one of the media partners for the above mentioned event. I am psyched that Social Media finally gets a forum of it’s own, in our part of the world, rather than being a subset of other marketing, advertising, etc conferences.

Digital has definitely come of age… I’m not entirely sure offline will be wiped out so thoroughly in so short a time as Steve Ballmer so radically postulated, but we are definitely seeing the start of this ‘fundamental economic reset‘.

Readers of this blog get a 15% discount, so make full use of it.  If you’re planning to head down, drop a note or give me a shoutout on Twitter and it would be great to catch up in real life!

Details, details!

______________________________________________________________________________

Social Networking World Forum – Asia – Grand Hyatt Singapore, Singapore, 22nd and 23rd Sept 2009

• Two day conference dedicated to social networking

• Featuring key speakers from social networking publishers, advertising agencies, industry analysts, software developers and equipment manufacturers, pay-TV and network service providers, mobile operators, plus many more

• Evening Networking Reception

• Joint exhibition combining social networking and mobile social networking formats

• Free to attend exhibition only pass available

Key Speakers included:

  • Bennett Porter, Head of Marketing – South East Asia, Yahoo
  • Deep Malhotra, Senior Director, MySpace India and South East Asia.
  • Desmond Tan, Brand Manager, Loreal
  • Bambos Kaisharis, Head of Marketing, Singapore & Malaysia Nokia
  • Lai Kok Fung , CEO , BuzzCity
  • Jeffrey Seah, CEO – South East Asia, Starcom MediaVest Group
  • Olivier Legrand, General Manager – Asia, The Wall Street Journal Digital Network
  • Paras Sharma, Senior Director, Marketing & Corporate Communications, ESPN Star Sports
  • Plus many more

Early Booking Discount Ends 21st Aug 09 + 15% discount for blog readers

125x125-asia-snf

www.socialnetworking-asia.com

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04th Apr2009

Search Portals v.s Social Networking Sites – A Fight for the Advertising Dollar (& our eyeballs)

by Dorothy

Social Networking sites have gone mainstream, with news of how people are spending more time on SNS than their email, and how Facebook is sending more traffic than Google to some sites.

However, if it is true that there is going to be an expansion of the available domain names, (think .burger, .cola and so on) search is probably going to come back in a big way. It seems rather counterintuitive to introduce such a system on the grounds that we are running out of domain names to register under the current .com .net extensions. There is already a list of other generic top-level domains such as .edu, .info, .jobs, .gov, .travel for example, not counting the country extensions like .uk, .ca, etc.

I cannot imagine having to go manually go through all the possible extensions if I am looking for a particular website, so I’m probably going to head straight for a search giant like Google instead of trying my luck (and wasting my time) with the extension guessing.

On the flip side of the coin…..

here is what was happening last year, when it was predicted that the advertising dollar would shift from SNS and portals.

Portals, Social Networks Lose Share in Razorfish Ad-Spending Study
Digital Shop Says Clients Shifted Dollars to Search, Ad Networks in 2008

“There were a few surprises when digging into the various verticals where Razorfish spent its dollars. Spending on community sites, which include social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, actually went down to 16%, from 19% the year before.Spending on entertainment sites was way up in 2008, to 23% of share from 18%, for two reasons: First, Razorfish finds that people in leisure environments are more open to advertising and the ads appear to convert better, and second, there were many new premium video sites where advertisers could spend their dollars. Said Ms. Baehr: “Hulu didn’t really exist for us in 2007.”



Right now in 2009, FB might be bringing and directing more traffic than Google to certain sites, but in general, I think it remains to be seen how this will play out. This issue is raised here in this article “Is Facebook’s Rise a boon for Google?” as well.

Personally, I am a triffle annoyed at the multitude of advertisements, repackaged as “suggestions”, in the new Facebook layout. FB is trying to be clever in placing your friends’ updates on the homepage on the right, training your eye to tune into the right sidebar area, so that perhaps you’ll make it a habit to glance through on your own profile page, where the Suggestions are. It’s not working. Too much clutter, and I’m on advertisement block out autopilot viewing mode.

I would rather go with Google’s interpretation of suggestions – sites that I actually am looking for, so that I’m getting help for my results even before the typing of the search term is completed. Talk about reading my mind.

FB needs to clean up their act and clean up their interface. It only takes a little nudge (and perhaps a great new platform that takes its users into account) to spark off a mass migration. This is the potential reverse social network effect looming. Then again, maybe FB shouldn’t listen to anyone, since they have never done so, and some good might come out of that.

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22nd Mar2009

Avatars: Virtual environments & Liquid Identities

by Dorothy

For a psychology module I am doing, I have spent the last couple of weeks trawling through an insane number of academic journals and research on computer mediated communication (CMC), in particular, focusing on Avatars. Lots of very interesting and recent research on the topic!

For a brief introduction, CMC can be both fully text-based (MIRC or Internet Relay Chat), graphic avatar-based, or a mixture of both.

Avatars can be both static (photographs/still images in chat programs like MSN) or dynamic (2D/3D virtual characters like in games or Second Life).

The general trend of thought during the early days of the Internet was that it allowed for a certain amount of anonymity so that people could become “someone else”. Interestingly, the research shows that people are likely to pick or modify Avatars to be “like” themselves, in terms of gender and type (aka human), which might extend to picking avatars that have other characteristics that are closely matched to their own, e.g hobbies, hair colour, race, personality and dressing.

In a nutshell, avatars allow one to maintain a sense of privacy (without divulging your true identity), and yet let you have complete control over the expression of your online identity. This expression is almost complete when you think about the level of control over your physique, features like eye colour, hair, lips and nose, right down to the length and size of your limbs in virtual worlds like Second Life.

Some cool Avatar facts!

  • The selection of Avatars is context dependent. Males have been known to select a female avatar to represent themselves in online gaming spaces because they find that they receive more help and hints from other players. They also receive more attention as a “girl”.
  • This probably means that the same person could choose very different kinds of avatars in different online spaces to represent themselves. e.g on dating sites, work related sites, gaming sites and so on.
  • Anthropomorphic (human-like) avatars were perceived to be more credible.
  • Participants strongly preferred avatars that were both human and of the same gender as themselves. Only a small percentage of subjects preferred androgynous avatars.
  • Choices choices choices (in terms of character design): Some studies report that given entirely pre-created avatars, and allowing people to mix and match their avatars, people were more likely to take the time to customize their own avatars. They hardly opted to pick the lazy way out and just select the “default” characters. (Cheng, Farnham, & Stone, 2002; Taylor, 2002)
  • There is even a Declaration of the Rights of Avatar, by Raph Koster. ‘‘Foremost among these rights is the right
    to be treated as people and not as disembodied, meaningless, soulless puppets. Inherent in this right are therefore the natural and inalienable rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression’’. Far out!

On that note, I’m missing Google’s Lively as it is. Walk through my exploration of that here!

Everyone has their days… when they have no idea how to control their avatars, and you drive yourself up the wall, literally.

And this goes for default sitting positions too… (why they programed it as such, I can never fanthom)

Pimp my Lively home! Before v.s After

I guess this comic pretty much sums up Avatars on the Internet! On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog

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11th Mar2009

Strategic Ad Placement

by Dorothy

Strategic Ad Placement - FLV To

It came to my attention that there is an interesting placement of advertisements on the 2Convert.net or formerly Flvto page, where you can convert online videos to MP3s, or songs in high quality as promised on site.

Right next to it, advertisement banners for the HIP campaign in Singapore, the fight against illegal file sharing, ironically, AND links to other competitors in the online video converter segment.

Pretty smart combination of advertisements served, I would say!

On another note, it is high time that the Itunes store started selling music here, instead of just applications. As mentioned in my recent post about piracy, there is the current problem of not companies not providing the content that people were willing to pay money for.

Of course I would love to support my favourite artistes, I’m just not too sure how much of this actually acrues to them and not the intermediaries, but that is another issue altogether.

I believe that most of Gen Y have no issues with purchasing their content legally, following the rules officially laid out. Subscription based, pay per download, it really doesn’t matter which model.

Just make it easy and affordable for them us.

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