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

 

 

11th Jun2009

Ad:Tech Singapore Thoughts: #1 Live event Tweeting…

by Dorothy

…is a brain intensive process.

This was the first time I’ve tried to live tweet an entire 2 day conference, and I’ve found it was no easy feat…

Brain Intensive

A couple of the guys were remarking that it was pretty trying to Tweet, listen, synthesize and breathe all at once. Tiring yes, but I shall credit the factors that supposedly make females more adept at multitasking, and maybe the live blogging practice from Social Media Breakfast sessions.  🙂 Still, end of Day 1, we were Zapped with a capital Z, reflected in the more modest number of Tweets on Day 2, if you were following the live Twitter feed.

Self PWNed.

I love Tweetdeck. really I do. I’d never tried out the Twitter/FB syncing on Tweetdeck so something in me asked why not? I’ll show you why (not). See this, and multiply it a few times in length.

annoying-fb-spam

Basically, I spammed my FB profile with my Tweets. Horrendous. I’m sure I spammed the FB News feed of all my friends as well, giving them sure reasons to filter me out .. haha ( just kidding).

Anyway, by lunchtime of the first day, I decided this was not working (not as fun as I thought it would be, visually or mentally), so I stopped the simultaneous posting to both Twitter and FB, so my profile could breathe. Left a status msg linked to my twitter feed instead.  The really un-fun part was having to go in and delete the posts on my wall..one by one. Didn’t quite erase them all… No more experimenting on this!

Lets try not to parrot

I also didn’t want to repeat every single thing that was being Tweeted, so the plan I had really was to watch the live feed and pretty much figure out on the spot the angles that each of the other people Tweeting were taking, and avoid posting similar thoughts. Not entirely avoidable, of course, since most good points are usually the ones that get picked up and Tweeted, but worth the effort and still manageable due to the number of Tweeters. Which brings me to my next point…

It’s a digital conference

…but where is the tech? went a Tweet that I saw. Should we hope to see more people actually getting their feet wet and using the tools that would help them understand the different aspects of how it could help them in their jobs better? Only a handful of people were live Tweeting, with the rest of the comments coming from interested parties not present at the conference.

Live event broadcasting

I can see why there is the debate over whether or not a portion of the presentation screen should be devoted to the live Tweets while presentations are going on. Possible issues I can think of are:

  • It’s distracting : some people can’t listen and focus on the Tweets at the same time
  • hijacking: some people mistaking the Tweet screen as a stage to send SMS-type msgs like on TV/ or saying something inappropriate.

The Tools are more powerful than you know…if used right

Some thoughts on the conference as a whole – It really would have helped if the folks organizing the conference could have confirmed the #hashtag, rather than the Tweeters finalizing it themselves. I saw Claudia taking the inititaive to try and standardiz the tag, but there was still some confusion and all conversation got divided mostly between @adtechasia (the official one) and @adtechsg, with a huge majority not even using them… so just adtech ought to return those results in Twitter search. The problem with the last option is that it returns all global adtech sessions – Twitter is now “mainstream”…hopefully digital marketers will make more effort to really utilize the power of the tools offered to them.

I found another Tweet about how Ad:tech singapore might end up as the conference with the most number of abandoned conference Twitter accounts ever amusing.

Having said that, it was very encouraging to see progress, however small, in terms of the ad:tech blog, using Twitter to get live audience questions during sessions ( although there was the query about why Wifii appeared to be cut off during sessions without a Twitter Q&A feature. Feedback off the Adtech Twitter stream should show lots of griping comments about a technology centric conference with no internet from both visiting and local delegates… ). Baby steps, but it can only get better!

Are you on Twitter? Drop a note to say hi if you were at Ad:tech too! If not, it would be cool to connect on Twitter anyway, or you can leave a comment here. 🙂

More up next on the Keynote Youth Panel session… and meeting Scott Goodstein (man behind Obama’s digital campaign)! I shall try not to fangirl too much.

My other posts on Ad:tech this year:

Pre Ad:tech thoughts: Web 2.0 & Gen Y: The Other Side of the Story
Ad:Tech Singapore Thoughts: #2 Engage the Youth Keynote session

You can stay tuned through this blog’s RSS here!

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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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12th Feb2009

The Social Web #2: Accessibility and Ease of use

by Dorothy

In my previous post, I talked about how social tools on the web ought to be intuitive, because the adoption process would probably be largely self-driven.

“It just Works”
I hadn’t really noticed how intuitive the installation of programs on the Mac platform have been, nor truly appreciated it, until I recently had to deal with the Windows platform on a new netbook. Then it was back to the days of reading through the instruction manual, all sections of it. Not so much by choice, but more of fear. Fear that something would not work, should I miss a step.

Upgrading my Mac OS platform was not even that much of a hassle. Pop the disc in, and everything pretty much ran by itself. I had so many windows popping up on my (pardon the pun) Windows platform, it wasn’t even funny.

So much for the power of intuition and usability. Here is a link to some light reading about good usability by peterpixel, which has been sitting in my “To Read” folder for far too long! It is web design centric, but I believe the guidelines are useful information for anyone who wants to have a presence on the social web, be it on a webpage, blog or any other platform. Most of what he says is pretty generalizable to other purposes that you might have, and presented in a very digestible form.

Accessibility: Make it easy for us/and them
I’ve noticed that signing up for various social media services on the web has gotten that much easier, and shorter.
At the same time, there is still that issue of having to sign up for an account anywhere before one can proceed, and how much of an annoyance this is. This is so ingrained in us, that I felt really skeptical when Posterous listed their first step as “skipping the signup and account creation.” I felt truly weird, having no account, clicking on the login button and feeling relieved when they had an option to sign up for an account there. So, obviously I didn’t take advantage of the no sign-up needed, possibly because I didn’t exactly trust/believe it. Humans and their habits!

Forrester research tells us that required registration lowers online conversion rates. Their research was based on online shopping sites, so I do wonder about how translatable this would be to other social media platforms. Might be interesting to find out! The effects are probably different, depending on the carrots that are dangling at the other end.forrester

Once again, community comes into play. It is probably much easier, and you will probably have more motivation to sign up for something that your peers are already on, because the crowd can’t be that far wrong…. right?

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21st Dec2008

“Tag, You’re it!”

by Dorothy

Facebook Tag

I thought it would be interesting to dedicate a post to tagging behaviour that I’ve observed over the past year and a half or so of being on Facebook…so here it is!

  • The Ghost tagger – Tagging people who promised to show at the gathering but didn’t. Tagging people who are part of your clique but couldn’t show.
  • The Accidental tagger – Tagging the wrong person because you have a couple of people sharing the same first name and surname. And having to leave a comment asking the album owner to “Please remove the wrong tag, sorry!”.
  • The Lazy tagger – Tagging only one person once in the entire album so that they know of the album’s existence. And crossing your fingers that the crowd will come and tag the rest of the photos themselves.
  • The Obsessive Compulsive tagger – Tags each and EVERY single photo in the millions of albums, including arms and limbs and random shoes and objects that belong to the person.
  • The Non tagger – Does not do tags. At all. Typical attitude -If people want their photos, they can just monitor the news feed or click to my profile because tags are “so not my style”.
  • “Wish you were here” tags – Waking up and finding that your friend who is traveling at some exotic location has amazingly (or not so amazingly) managed to find something (like the local fire hydrant) that reminds him of you, and as such, has tagged you.
  • The De-Tagger – Having woken up and finding that your well meaning friend likens the local fire hydrant to you (see “wish you were here” tag), you promptly de-tag it so that no awkward questioning can come from people who don’t know the story behind the curious tag. De-tagging occurs also in cases where you think you look like you just rolled out of bed. Or similar.
  • “You are what you eat” tags- Tagging people’s favourite foods in a food shot, because who else could that plate of chicken rice represent but… you? Works also for spoils of war from shopping, party drinks, etc.
  • “Where’s Wally” tags – Eagle-eyed taggers who just simply cannot miss you, that pixelated blob in the background mob and tag you accurately. “How on earth did you manage to spot me?” moment ensues.
  • Random better-late-than-never tags – Linked to the Lazy tagger mentioned above. Going through old albums uploaded eons ago may trigger tagging behaviour.
  • Just too many tags! – I recently found that the limit for photo tagging is 30 people. There is a limit? You ask. Yes, there is. Almost everything has a limit. Maybe in future, tagging can also allow for the size of the square to be controlled by the person tagging.

Have I missed out any other quirky tag behaviours? Do share!

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07th Dec2008

What will the web be like for future users?

by Dorothy

The Strip-Mall Effect
I recently came across an interesting perspective on how the Strip-Mall effect could “destroy the web”.
It’s a pretty American analogy. The huge strip mall appears, the one stop destination for all your purchasing or grocery needs. This basically causes the little mom and pop stores to go out of business, simply because they cannot compete with the likes of anchors in huge chains like Target or Walmart. I never really thought about the fact they actually built roadways to make these malls unavoidable. Then again, I guess that was a huge theme in Pixar’s Cars…

So here’s how this analogy applies to the web:
…the next generation of Internet users will grow up with a different understanding of the Web. To them, it won’t be the odd, wild, vital place it is today, but instead a smaller pool of big sites that reinforce each other’s traffic and wield heavy influence in purchases and tastes. The next generation will be able to access most of what they need – news, entertainment, shopping, comedy – through the hub of their social network, or even hubs that pool all their social networks. That leaves them removed by several degrees from the go-anywhere Web of today. They’ll have little reason to mosey up to the address bar and type in anything else.

Consolidation and the Likes
The article above was largely focused and based on an assumption that websites online depend on advertising to sustain themselves. Issues about advertising and trying to monetize what’s on the web aside, fundamentally, there is that underlying theme of aggregation and consolidation. And then the loss of any opinions that are peripheral to the “main” viewpoint that most in the group hold.

I feel Seth Godin alludes to this in his post, Death of the Personal Blog, in which he talks about how the world’s ‘top’ blogs are written by groups of people. True, this means that updates are frequent but this may mean a less diverse opinion, especially if the groups decide to simply reinforce the general opinion/perspective held by the team.

The music industry has gone through a similar evolution, only to have the internet and digital initiatives handing the power to produce and distribute back to the masses. The communications industry is still arguably controlled by the major holding companies. I guess this simply means that the landscape is constantly evolving, it is going to be pretty difficult to say that the emergence of a certain phenomenon (e.g masses all congregating at social networks and not visiting individual sites anymore) is the end.

Thoughts
It seems pretty harsh to use the phrase that the web will be “destroyed”. That raises a few questions for me.
1. What exactly is meant by “destroyed”? If the web still serves a function for people, regardless of the diversity of content, it still exists. The word “destroyed” is a bit too apocalyptic, too terminal for me.

In addition, the future looks to remain digital, if findings from reports such as this are anything to go by. Haven’t had the chance to read the actual content, but the abstract is pretty concise.
About The Pop Culture Trend Report – While icons like Barbie and LEGO continue to captivate people, global pop culture has become highly defined by the internet. Only by translating these brands into the digital world, and establishing an online presence, have they managed to sustain their appeal. New brands can also be more easily discovered if they appeal to online consumers.

If anything, people will become increasingly dependent on the web to carry out their daily chores and communication.

2. What is “the web”?
Is this just something that you consume off an internet browser? Or basically anything that you do online, say, Skype or emailing? In which case all you need is an internet connection and a computer or a handheld device that does the same job.

3. Will there be a day when internet connection is going to be 24/7, completely affordable, universal, and accessible to all? We’ve already moved from dial up, to cable and broadband. Perhaps the question is not will there be a day, but rather, when?

4. Does it really mean the demise of the web?
Sure, maybe most of the people are going to be concentrated on those “hubs” that the first article mentioned. But the tools to produce and distribute on the internet still remain in control of the users. Increased homogenization yes, but total? I don’t think so. At least not so soon, and not so easy.

Nevertheless, it will be pretty interesting to watch how all this panders out.
Actually, lets not just watch, let’s be a part of it as well. 🙂

Update: Some cool stuff about what experts are predicting for Web 2.0 in 2009.

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04th Oct2008

Social Media Brunch (SMB 4): Thoughts and Photos!

by Dorothy

Social Media Brunch 4: The lowdown

It’s time for another SMB post! I really wonder if the Social Media Breakfast/SMB title will go the way of Kentucky Fried Chicken/KFC (and all the conspiracy theories that no one ever uses the full name anymore, because what they’re selling is not chicken.) For the record, really, I think the real reason was that KFC wanted to take away the emphasis on the word “fried”. But I’m digressing.

Derrick was throwing up a concept that he and Nadia had talked about. He basically joked that the next SMB could be a Social Media Beer, since it would probably coincide with his coming of age and birthday. Social Media Breakfast, Brunch, what not… I was thinking, going along those lines, the next SMB could easily be anything from a Social Media Beach (power issues?) to Social Media Bash, etc. The feminists are going to kill me for even suggesting Social Media Babes. And the list goes on…

So SMB4, a brunch this time, saw a really good turnout. Held at the URA building, it was obvious that the crowd demographic had shifted slightly again. And really, as with all the SMB events so far, you never know what you’re going to get in terms of attendees.

It came up during discussions with Enning who suggested that there ought to be two separate events for SMB, one catered to the corporate folks, and another for the more casual bloggers out there. I actually think that if the event gets big enough, it would be great to have different breakout sessions, rather than dividing the event up. Right now, the numbers don’t really warrant that yet, but it’s all about constant adjustment and tweaking.

For myself, it was quite a different perspective because I had been live blogging the event, which was pretty much something I had never done before. It turned out to be a pretty fun experience nonetheless! Trying new stuff is always good.

Here are some photos from the event from the folks at Livestudios!


Derrick, Kim, Willy, Me, Claudia and Sherms!


Group shot

…. and the inaugural live blogging shot.

If you’re curious to find out more about SMB events in future, leave a comment, join our Facebook group or visit the SMB Singapore Forum!

Thoughts

I suppose a huge portion of what I think can already be found on the Socialmediabreakfast.sg site post. If I could expand on any point, I guess I truly believe that with social media,

“There isn’t a single formula that fits everyone.”

Perhaps it is not so important to clearly define what social media is, but just to recognize the mere fact that it affects everyone, and to varying degrees. What social media is will probably change over time, what social media is to you will probably change over time.

This really got me thinking. It occurred to me that a lot of the conversation at SMB4 was skewed towards the corporate side of things. It just so happened that things turned out that way, since SMB3 had been a lot more blogger-centric. The word “sincerity” was thrown around a lot during the panel discussions at SMB4, and I couldn’t agree more. I value sincerity in my real life interactions, and there is no reason for me to deviate from this when things are translated to the digital realm.

What is social media to me? At the end of the day, it isn’t just some magic bullet to address the concerns of marketing and PR folks. It isn’t just a (recently) convenient channel where corporations can “reach” their targeted consumers.

It’s a tool that I use to connect with the people that matter to me. It is a space where I can talk to my friends. It is an outlet for me to pen down my thoughts. It is a school where I can learn about what is going on all over the world.

Why I am interested in this, is because it helps me keep in contact with people all over the globe, regardless of our schedules, workload or geographical location.

Why I am interested in this, is because I love thinking about issues, and often, I express myself best through the written word.

Why I am interested in this, is because the social media space is the best book/textbook anyone could ever have due to it’s ever changing nature.

At present, I am not interested in unwanted intrusions into my conversations. If you’re going to talk to me, talk to me as a person and not as another potential “customer”. Corporations need to understand that sincerity and enthusiasm can be smelt a mile away, and likewise, a lack of either simply turns most people off. We may not have a universal remote control to “switch TV channels” like we used to, but we are sure going to make full use of the privacy functions on any platform to tune out unwanted messages.
Short of turning the entire social media space into a giant proverbial Tupperware party (viewed from its most basic concept, where friends promote products/services to other people they know), I am not quite convinced that the true power of social media can be harnessed in any other way right now.

Your thoughts?

P.S : If you were at SMB 4, we’d love it if you could fill out this short survey so we can improve on future sessions!

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Other links:

Tech65’s Audio Recording of the 1st part of the panel discussion
Daryl’s thoughts on SMB4

Benjamin’s thoughts on SMB4
Claudia’s glad SMB4 happened!

26th Sep2008

The future of …Search

by Dorothy

Some logistics first!

I have to apologize for the dearth of posts lately. I have been getting down to a lot of back-end tweaking on this site, couple that with a cloud confusion over the transfer of my domain name and the likes… equates to a lot of mental hair pulling and bug fixing. I love technology, but it doesn’t work all the time.

Still, thank you for being patient and of course, for reading!

I’d like to invite you to update your bookmarks to point to http://www.dorothypoon.com
and your RSS feeds to http://www.dorothypoon.com/feed/

because all the old links are now defunct. Hopefully that will iron out any of the remaining kinks!

…on to the post! 🙂
_________________________________________________________________

Everything is searchable nowadays.

Maybe it’s how Google perpetually surfaces in the news, maybe it is how search permanently ingrained into my browsing habits. I thought it would be cool to dig into the search world, since we basically can’t quite escape this function when we’re on the internet. If we’re not accessing search engines on the web, we probably have some form of search built right into our web browsers.

What then, does this mean for the content that ‘s out there?

Blogs v.s Discussion Forums

In the pre-social networking site days, community used to be largely confined to a discussion forum, where typically one has to log in (first barrier of entry) to read or comment, and more often than not, forget their log in details once the discussion is over (a second negative point). It doesn’t help that search engines do index content from some forum threads, but it is highly annoying for visitors to click on a link from a serach page, only to find that the main forum content is private and sign up is required. The behaviour that this outcome is likely to elicit is to hit that close window/close tab function and find content that is more easily accessible.

Public blogs on the other hand are indexed on search engines like Google – even if you have forgotten some of your old posts, Google doesn’t forget. Blogs are easily searchable, and and typically require no log-ins, just your minimum details if you wish to leave a comment.

Of course, going by the saying that there are markets in everything as postulated from the guys over at Marginal Revolution (which I will plug because they constantly talk about interesting topics), I was curious as to what the situation was like with discussion forums right now. Are discussion forums more searchable now, and what is their current relationship with the search engines?


Sure enough, we currently have Twing.com – “a powerful new search engine dedicated to finding information within forums and communities“. It’s a promising idea, but the site frequently lags for me, and does not always turn in useful results. Ironically, clicking on the “How to use Twing” section brings up…a blank page. Apparently, they have tools for brand managers to generate graphs and monitor online brand conversations, but…I can’t seem to find it easily. So the verdict is.. cool concept, but not that great (yet). Well. Sometimes you’re just part of something that starts a revolution (like how Netscape revolutionalized internet browsing…well where are they now?). But even that might be stretching it a little in this case.


Micro Blogging Search

Some good stuff for Twitter at http://search.twitter.com/
and http://www.tweetscan.com/ ,which has the added functionality of allowing you to search by Twitter username.


Google
Look, with a name that is synonymous with search, it is impossible not to mention these guys (and as you’ve noticed by now their name has been liberally sprinkled all over this post!). Lets not talk about their basic search engine or search bar, Google Insights has been used from anything to compare the changing trends in political inclinations to brand management, to gaining more understanding about users.. which makes it a pretty powerful tool in itself, and no less than what we’ve come to expect from the Googlers. Good stuff!

Random Search

http://downforeveryoneorjustme.com/

The title sums it up! Sometimes, certain sites are down and I notice an influx of questions on the various community sites. “Is (site name here) down??”

I really like this one, but I have to admit, while it is cool, I have not developed the habit of running to this site when sites are not working.
I am (and I believe many others too) still more likely to whine about site downtime either on Facebook, MSN status messages, Twitter, or Plurk.

Search and Habit
Which brings me to another point. I believe search is intrinsically tied in to habit.

We return to our favourite search engine out of sheer habit and familiarity, and once that habit is formed, we are not inclined to switch easily.

Same goes for our habits to obtain information. An increasingly large number of people are getting “too lazy to even Google” and would rather post a question to their online communities and get responses from “familiar” faces (or even random strangers) that they have interacted with in the past. We are, after all, inherently social in nature.

It is interesting of course, that people are so willing to trust in the opinion of these “experts”, instead of an official site from a more trustworthy source. It is also interesting that they are willing to wait for a response, when a quick search on Google would have been much faster (and also more likely to turn up a more relevant and accurate result).

There are several issues in this. Search engines have to constantly monitor the behavioural habits of users and update their search algorithums to most accurately predict what people are looking for. Those in the search industry have to figure out how their product can become a part of people’s habits. Content providers have to deal with the issue of making themselves as searchable as possible. For the rest of us who use the search function, discernment about the reliability about our sources of information is a growing concern. How do you know who (or what site) to trust?

The Future of Search

I guess people are obsessed with finding out where trends are going, what the future entails. If I could throw in some keywords, I would say that search is going to become increasingly digital, accessible anywhere, mobile, multi-platform, intuitive, user friendly, and most importantly, a ubiquitous feature in our lives.

I thought it would be apt then, to highlight these wonderfully executed pieces that contemplate the future of what search could be.

http://petitinvention.wordpress.com/2008/02/10/future-of-internet-search-mobile-version/
Mobile Search Functions


Locational search.


A cool dictionary concept!

http://petitinvention.wordpress.com/2008/03/01/future-of-mobile-internet-search-applications/
Applications


Directions to your destination.

http://petitinvention.wordpress.com/2008/07/09/future-of-mobile-search-search-beyond-time/
Search beyond Time.


Weather forecasting!

http://petitinvention.wordpress.com/2008/07/26/looking-glass-for-iphone/


Data transfer to the iphone!

While they are only figments of a very innovative mind of the author at petitinvention, it seems to me that he has a keen understanding of the typical user’s needs. Couple that with some mad technical skills and you get pictures of prototypes such as these – flawlessly executed, amazing conceptual pieces that you have to see in their entirety to truly appreciate. These works come in a seven part series, eight, if you count in the Iphone concept.

Hope you enjoy them!

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