La geolocalización se hace mayor de edad: Facebook Places

Tras el anuncio oficial de Facebook Places ayer, y teniendo en cuenta que la aplicación solo está disponible por el momento en Estados Unidos y que por tanto no he tenido la oportunidad de probarla, todo parece indicar que nos disponemos a alcanzar el estado de madurez en las aplicaciones de geolocalización.

Hasta el momento, la escena había estado dominada por un competidor principal, Foursquare, y algunos otros contendientes como Gowalla o Brightkite. Que Facebook, tras ocho meses de desarrollo, lance Places con el supuesto apoyo de los dos principales competidores, y con un logotipo que muestra precisamente un cuatro dentro de un cuadrado no hace más que acentuar las dudas del fundador de Foursquare, Dennis Crowley, acerca del futuro desarrollo de la competencia en este entorno: ¿qué escenario veremos dentro de unos meses? ¿Seguirán Foursquare y Gowalla con su crecimiento actual, o habrán cedido terreno ante la pujanza de Facebook y su enorme volumen de usuarios?


Looking south from Top of the Rock, New York City
Image via Wikipedia

Tras el anuncio oficial de Facebook Places ayer, y teniendo en cuenta que la aplicación solo está disponible por el momento en Estados Unidos y que por tanto no he tenido la oportunidad de probarla, todo parece indicar que nos disponemos a alcanzar el estado de madurez en las aplicaciones de geolocalización.

Hasta el momento, la escena había estado dominada por un competidor principal, Foursquare, y algunos otros contendientes como Gowalla o Brightkite. Que Facebook, tras ocho meses de desarrollo, lance Places con el supuesto apoyo de los dos principales competidores, y con un logotipo que muestra precisamente un cuatro dentro de un cuadrado no hace más que acentuar las dudas del fundador de Foursquare, Dennis Crowley, acerca del futuro desarrollo de la competencia en este entorno: ¿qué escenario veremos dentro de unos meses? ¿Seguirán Foursquare y Gowalla con su crecimiento actual, o habrán cedido terreno ante la pujanza de Facebook y su enorme volumen de usuarios? Leer más “La geolocalización se hace mayor de edad: Facebook Places”

microMARKETING through the eyes of an indexer


Micromarketing_index As long-time readers know, I often rant against social media marketers who focus too much on the tools and technologies (especially when those tools or technologies might be commonly believed to be the “next big thing”), generally losing sight of the more permanent and more important human behaviors that underlie those tools or are enabled by them.

So when I set out to write microMARKETING, I challenged myself to keep the focus firmly on the big picture (ironic perhaps, but the right thing to do nonetheless.) I knew that — by default, if not design — my book would be a product of its time and would, therefore, be loaded with references to Facebook and Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, blogs and lifestreams, Buzz and Brightkite. But I hoped that it wouldn’t read as nothing more than a document of what’s hot right now, and remain relevant for years to come. Leer más “microMARKETING through the eyes of an indexer”

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Ask.com Co-Founder Joins Allvoices

Written by Curt Hopkins

allvoices.pngDavid Warthen, co-founder of search engine Ask.com (formerly Ask Jeeves) has joined citizen journalism site Allvoices as its Chief Technology Officer.

Warthen was co-founder, and CTO for, Ask Jeeves. As Ask.com it remains the fourth most consulted search engine. It was sold to Barry Diller’s InterActive Corp for $1,85 billion in 2005. After Jeeves, Warthen acted as CTO for Eye Games, “a pioneer of full-body motion interactive webcam video games that presaged the Nintendo Wii” and Answerbag, acquired by Demand Media in 2007.

Allvoices relies on a lot of technology to do what it does. In addition to the relatively simple parts, like allowing contributors to sign up and readers to read stories, the company uses a Digg-like reader ranking system to bring stories up in the mix. It uses a complex search algorithm to verify story submissions. They also use reputation ranking to decide which contributors are the most trustworthy and they have to communicate these dynamic algorithms to users in a way that makes them useful.

“Allvoices technology is in support of the human element – where global citizens are the creators and curators of the content – to make both the site and the business model scalable,” Warthen told us. “These human/algorithm hybrid systems have been at the core of most of the work I have done, where the people involved are considered part of the system and not “outside” of the system.” Leer más “ReadWriteWeb / Latest news…”

Location-Based Social Networks: Delightful, Dangerous or Somewhere in Between?


Written by Sarah Perez

Are location-based social networks privacy disasters waiting to happen? Or are the supposed “dangers” simply being overhyped by those without a thorough understanding of what these new networks can and cannot do? Today, these questions are the subject of a serious debate among early adopters – the group of people who are first to sign up for and try out the latest technology innovations, testing everything from iPads to mobile apps.

There are currently a number of location-based social networks clamoring for your attention, including earlier contenders like Loopt and Brightkite as well as the later to arrive game-based networks like Foursquare and Gowalla. Even user review site Yelp is getting in on the action. So is Google. And so is Facebook, apparently.

But is sharing your location with your online “friends” asking for trouble?

Please Rob Me? OK! Says Burglar

Not too long ago, a social experiment called PleaseRobMe launched, displaying the aggregated real-time updates from Foursquare users who used the service’s social sharing feature to broadcast their updates publicly on Twitter. Although that site has since been shuttered, the point they were trying to make still resonates: sharing your physical location with a public network is a dangerous and really dumb idea.

Want more examples? How about the story of the Twitter user who broadcast his vacation only to find his house robbed when he came home. Or more recently, a women’s Facebook status update alerted a burglar that her home was empty and ready to be robbed. (The thief got away with $10,000 in stolen goods).

Social Networks and Privacy

However, the above incidents take place on a somewhat public stage. (The Facebook woman, for instance, had collected around 600 friends – surely not all of them were truly personal contacts?)

The new mobile social networking services allow for a bit more privacy. On these networks, you can control who you “friend” and, in some cases, who can see your exact location. Brightkite, for example, lets you choose to share updates with either just friends or with everyone. Foursquare lets you check in to locations “off the grid,” meaning checking in privately without letting your friends know where they can find you.

Redefining Friend

Unfortunately, the issue with all these networks comes down to how someone defines the word “friend.” Ever since the days of MySpace, it seems the goal has been to accumulate the most friends. This mindset has carried over to many other social networks, including Twitter, the social aggregator FriendFeed and Google Buzz, all of which publicly track and expose how many people follow you, an indication of popularity…and who doesn’t want to be popular?

The truth is, an online friend may or may not be worthy of the same level of trust as someone you know in real life. Sure, they might be – in fact, odds are they are lovely people – but without a history of interaction that extends beyond sharing a few links and comments on Twitter, you can’t possibly know that for sure.

Dangers to Women?

This is the point that Director of Partner Marketing for the Rackspace Cloud Michelle Greer makes on a recent blog post where she explains why she can’t get excited about geolocation. “I’ve had some not so pleasant experiences with someone who felt compelled to tell me that I couldn’t block him from certain circles of my life,” she wrote. “When I’d tweet that people should go to an event, he’d friend everyone involved. He was basically trying to be everywhere I was both online and off and it was very scary.”

Also frightening is the story from out-spoken blogger Harriet Jacobs. She discovered that Google had revealed her location with the launch of its social network, Buzz. It exposed what she believed were private comments on blog posts shared in Google Reader. Those who could now see these details included a group of anonymous strangers (aka “blog readers”) who had sent her threats over the years. Plus, her top emailed contact was none other than an abusive ex-husband. All this because Google mistakenly thought that your email contact list was – in all cases – your true social network. Google has since apologized for the blunder, but the damage was done.

Anecdotally, the fears of being socially stalked have been whispered behind the scenes ever since these mobile social networks launched. While some may claim (perhaps accurately) that these examples of the supposed dangers are fringe cases, the sad truth is that women are stalked and harassed more often than men – it’s just a statistical fact. Most won’t blog about it as publicly as Greer or Jacobs did, though – they simply won’t use a service that discloses their location.

You Can be Smart About This…but Can the Mainstream?

Now, granted, there are ways to maintain some privacy when using services like these, whether you’re worried about stalking, robbery or simply want to be left alone. Social networker extraordinaire Robert Scoble made a few suggestions in the comments of Greer’s blog post. His ideas: lie about your exact location, be more picky about your friends, change your name or check in after you’ve left. These are all tactics that would certainly work well, so now the decision users have to make is should they bother? Some may feel that’s quite a bit effort just to generate a badge collection or get a tip about a restaurant’s best dish. But others will find more compelling reasons to use mobile social networks. At big events, for example, these networks can help you find your friends. You may even save a few bucks on your meal thanks to a mobile coupon received upon check-in – and everyone loves saving money.

Still, if early adopters are still debating these risks and rewards, what will the mainstream think? They’re already terrified of the molesters on MySpace and the boss reading their Facebook status. And many of them are so technically un-savvy that they opted in to letting Facebook share their updates with everyone without even realizing it. Some of them don’t even know when they’re on Facebook or when they’re reading this blog. Are these people capable of using mobile social networks properly in ways that won’t put them at risk? Or will they add friends willy-nilly, broadcast their every move then be stunned when something bad happens?

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