Cambridge tutors admits using Facebook during admissions process

Story in today’s Guardian about a Cambridge admissions tutor using Facebook to "check" on students applying to his college.

Dr Richard Barnes tells Emmanuel college:

"This has been the year in which I joined Facebook … I have
to confess that I actually joined to see what I was missing and also to
check up (discreetly) on applicants for a college position.

Cambridge University and the NUS say that Facebook shouldn’t be used as part of the offical admissions process (and there’s nothing to suggest it was).

Part of me thinks that’s the right move, but then part of me likes the idea of throwing something less formalised and beaureacratic into the mix. For the sake of equality lets make sure they check MySpace too.

Technorati tags: Cambridge University, Facebook, MySpace

My Media meme: memememe

I’ve finally been tagged in the ol’ My Media meme by Giles Shorthouse. I suppose it’s my fault for being out of sight and out of mind really.

Anyway here’s where everyone gets to see how cool and webby 2 dot oh I am.

What I’ve watched
Christmas TV was gash. I watched the Extras special but felt immensely let down. It was very predictable and the humour was tired. I had to physically get and go to draw a deep bath like a cynical old man when the whole “It’s Ridley Scott on the phone for you” routine began. I came back to find the denouement exactly as I’d imagined it. Is it meant to be like that?

Big Fat Quiz of the Year was fun, although despite Rob Brydon’s opportunity to redeem himself from last year I still think he is a twat. Such a shame as unlike Ricky Gervais he is genuinely funny. Lily Allen is a moron too.

Mighty Boosh was a wheeze as ever and I borrowed my wife’s step-mum’s Brideshead Revisited DVD box-set for a 350hr Waugh marathon.

What I read
Bought a bumper bundle of magazines to read over the Christmas break and then never got around to reading any. This meant binge-reading in the final days of the holiday: one magazine by the loo, one next to the bath (they’re far enough apart for that to work) one in the lounge and the rest by the bed.

In no particular order: New Statesman Christmas Special, Monocle, Private Eye (fuggin Christmas Special), Tribune (for the comics), Lobster.

Book-wise, I always have a few on the go and this holiday dipped into: Growing Your Own Vegetable PatchTintin and Explorers on the Moon. I’m also meant to have Thomas Pynchon’s Vineland on the go, but it’s currently on hold until I feel like it.

Then I also spent most of the break writing my CIPR Diploma research project so reading lots of journal articles on media agenda-setting theory.

What I’ve listened to
Radio1 – Christmas Party while painting (the bathroom); random presenters on long car journeys to visit wife’s family
Radio 4 – every morn while scrambling eggs and in the kitchen; going to bed.
Feist’s excellent Let it Die – bargain at £3.97 in Sainsburys.
Wagner’s Das Rheinegold – the most accessible of the Ring Cycle

What I’ve surfed
All my CIPR+dissertation tagged material on for my er… dissertation. Check ‘em out if you like; lots of media agenda-setting theory and UK political blogs
BBC News – for a new hit when the scheduling goes all funny.

Who I am tagging?
I’m going to tag my erstwhile colleague Jason Mical,…. Jesus, I’ve come late to this meme. Everyone’s been done. There. I tag Jason!

European 16-24 year-olds spend more time online than watching TV, and other useful stats

Two stories in today’s Guardian make for an interesting juxtaposition and indicate that employers of the future have a rude awakening.

First up, a report by the paper shows employers are cracking down on the amount of time staff use the internet and in particular, social networks. A deeper read reveals that the investigation has only covered the public sector but still shows 1,700 staff have been diosciplined or sacked in the past three years for mis-use of the internet or email. Trade Unions also calims they are dealing with an increase in the number of disputes involving social networks.

Contrast this with the story a bit further on about young people aged 16-24 are spending longer than ever before on the internet and the number of people using social networks has doubled from 23% last year to 42%.

So as employers crack down on people connecting and socialising online, today’s young people (and tomorrow’s workers) are spending even more and more of their lives on the interent. Hopefully when they come to the world of work employers will have realised just how integral (not to mention useful) the internet and social web can be.

The report (produced by the European Interactive Advertising Association) also found:

  • an increase in instant messaging and the message functions
    of social networks use which has led to a decrease in email (see also, Robin Goad’s recent post)
  • 81% of surfers say they have sent an
    email at least once a month over the past year, down from 85% in 2006
  • internet users across Europe (7,000 specially selected
    people across 10 European countries) are spending an
    average of nearly 12 hours a week on the internet
  • Italians
    are the heaviest users (13.6 hours per week), followed by the
    Swedes (13 hours) and the French (12.7 hours). The British – in
    seventh place – spend 12 hours a week, up from 11.3 hours in 2006. The
    Dutch are last on 9.8 hours
  • Almost a third of European web users have watched a TV,
    film or video clip, compared with 12% last year.
  • The EIAA study shows the effect on TV viewing, especially
    among the youth audience which is using the internet more often than TV
    for the first time. The survey shows that 82% of 16- to 24-year-olds
    use the web between five and seven days a week while only 77% watch TV
    as regularly – a drop of 5% from last year

Technorati tags: European Internet Useage Statistics, Guardian, social networks, employment

What’s a Facebook profile worth in cold, hard cash?

Some food for thought from the fantastic Mr Jarvis:

According to analysis by Deutsche Bank, today’s average newspaper reader is worth $500, meaning:

"Facebook’s 50 million active users translates to $300 per at that
valuation. And newspapers are shrinking while Facebook is growing by
200,000 new users a day. A day. And those users spend an average of 20
minutes each day inside the site vs. 41 minutes a month on newspaper sites."

You could add to that Facebook users are significantly more active with Facebook as a platform than they would be with a newspaper website too.

Technorati tags: Facebook, ROI, Jeff Jarvis, Deutsche Bank

Why agencies need to understand that social media is more than just ‘media’

There was a letter in PR Week UK last week [paywlled] criticising agencies having ‘specialist’ teams to do social media work. The author complained that agencies shouldn’t look at social media as separate from other media; in other word it should be baked into all other parts of the agency.

Now I agree with this sentiment, I’m also of the view that social media is more than just a tool or tactic. The internet is a platform that’s creating and facilitating some pretty fundmental shifts in our society and culture.

While Edelman in the UK has a separate team working with ‘digital’ we encourage other account teams to bake in as much online stuff as they are comfortable and capable of.

In return we get to look into the technologies and ideas that are and will be shaping society – both online and offline.

Which brings me onto what Doc Searl‘s has written about the whole Microsoft/Facebook story of this (last?) week. Doc’s view seems to suggest that while the deal is big business news it’s not as exciting as developments being made in the open source industry:

I believe … that the solutions that matter most aren’t going to come from big companies. They’ll come from independent developers working at companies large and small — including Microsoft, Google and Facebook. Also from users themselves, who now play roles as producers as well as consumers. (In fact, much of the open source movement is about the demand side supplying itself — “scratching one’s own itch” and all that.)

For me this is where social media ‘specialists’ (yuk!) add real value to agencies and their clients by not only advising how to use media in an online world, but how to do business and communicate in an online world that is becoming inreasingly like a test-bed for future society.

How many account teams who can advise on ‘monitoring blogs’ can also help clients understand that trends such as the open source movement may mean that in five years time the demand side of their sector will be supplying itself and how they can adjust to this?

Technorati tags: Facebook, Microsoft, Doc Searls, public relations, open source, consultancy

Sermo: the revenue model for Facebook?

Interesting point made on email today through Edelman‘s Me2 Revolution list.

Steve Rubel (for it was he) drew our attention to the US social network for health professionals, Sermo, which has just signed a deal with the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer.

In case you weren’t aware(!), Sermo is "the largest U.S. networking site for doctors. It launched in
September 2006, counts 30,000 physicians as members, and is adding
2,000 a week."

Although it’s not clear exactly what Pfizer’s involvement with the network will be it’s possible that the drug company will be able to tap into and benefit from the novel income stream that Sermo already offers. According to Daily Brief:

"Instead of selling ads, Sermo makes its money by letting service
companies, financial services firms, and the government become flies on
the wall of the biggest physicians’ roundtable out there. It packages
and sells the data it holds on the medical community, allowing those
parties to get insight into how to better serve them, and to anticipate
what’s on the horizon

Now it’s highly possible that someone has already written about the parallels between Sermo’s revenue model and the potential for Facebook to go the same way – but I haven’t read it yet.

Packaging and flogging user data aside, what’s stopping Facebook from selling focus-group sessions with its member-base to corporates? Isn’t it only one, logical step away from the daily poll you get in the side-bar.

It’s also an interesting model. No-one wants advertising anymore (and you can block it anyway) and those sponsored links in the news feed are laughable. If it came down to unannounced listening or unobtrusive focus group invitations, I think that might not be a too unpleasent way for Facebook to make some cash and stay useful.

Technorati tags: Sermo, Pfizer, Facebook, revenue

Woah! There’s social… and then *social*

I’ve just read about an astounding Facebook app that probably takes ‘sociality’ to a new, possibly unwelcome level.

The One Minute Friend app works thus:

“you add this application to your Facebook account, give it your phone number (just US and Canada for now), provide some selection criteria, and wait for your phone to ring. You’ll be connected, for free, to another person on Facebook who made matching selections. You talk for a minute and it disconnects. You see their first name and their photo, but no other information, such as your phone number or profile, is revealed. At the end of the call, if both of you so agree, the application will re-connect you for a more extended conversation. Otherwise you can move on to the next person”

I’m not sure I like the sound of that personally. Never does David Weinberger it seems, who admits “I haven’t tried it. I’m not that social.”

[Via  David Weinberger]

Technorati tags: Facebook apps; One Minute Friend

Back from holiday. Anyone else noticed BBC’s new footer?

Back from my hols and not knowing where to start with 2049 unread items in my feeds. Anyone got suggestions how to make digesting all the important posts as painless as possible?

I also had a look at the BBC’s news pages today and spotted they’ve added a content sharing footer to their news pages:



I appreciate this may be old news by now… but I thought it was worth a post. It something lots of other media outlets have been doing for a while. The Telegraph was one of the first I came across but since then I’ve noticed even local newspaper websites allow you to share the story about the lollipop lady winning a £500 on the lottery with the world via Digg.

Interesting to see the Facebook icon on their…. not sure what it does yet. I presume it adds a link to your news feed?

Why politicians still don’t get the real power of social networks

Did anyone read yesterday’s article in the London edition of the Financial Times about the use of social networks in the US presidential election?

I only ask because I did, and found it to be pretty un-insightful. OK, if I want up-to-the-minute commentary on social networking and politics I might turn to David Weinberger rather than the newspaper, but from the lumpen headline: “Battle for blogosphere ballot box heats up” to the closing para, little light was shed on what US candidates were actually doing with social networks.

First up the piece told us how many Facebook and MySpace friends the top Democrat and Republican candidates have. Then we got this insight from strategist, Thomas Gensemer, managing director of Blue State Digital:

“You can be putting a message out there in far more powerful ways than just e-mailing or on your own website … Instead of pressing ‘send’ to half a million people today, it’s activating a message that will be active for days thereafter”

Hmm. Enlightening.

Maybe Peter Daou, head of Hilary Clinton’s online campaign team can offer us a better explanation:

“More and more the internet is becoming essential to the political process”

Maybe not.

The most interesting questions are raised by the article’s critical voice of reason, Colin Nagy, director of Source Communications.

His argument is that:

“Collecting friends is superficial and doesn’t require any real effort on behalf of the friend …Would you rather have 20,000 friends who do nothing, donate nothing, or 10 friends who are active, crazy fundraisers?”

And he has hit the nail on the head. The real question is how do you get your 20,000 friends to become “active, crazy, fundraisers”.

The answer is: you change the way you do politics. I’ve said time and again that simply pushing out the same, tired, two-faced political crap that most 12 year-olds can see through but doing so via exciting new tools like social networks won’t work.

What politicians and their campaign teams need to grasp is the change in power dynamics within social networks. It’s a flat structure rather than a top down or even slightly hierarchical network. Rather than the network being there for them, they are there for the network.

People, like Colin Nagy don’t get it. He expects his 20,000 friends to do something for him or his candidate, when in reality they want him to do something for them. And isn’t that what politics is all about?

XP: edemocracy Update

Technorati tags: US Presidential elections, social networking, Financial Times, Hilary Clinton, Peter Daou, Colin Nagy, Thomas Gensemer

B.L. Ochman and neologisms

I was reading a really insightful post by B.L. Ochman on social networks and blogging (it pretty much wraps up the thoughts of others in one nice, neat place) when I came across the term ‘socnet’.

Socnet? Hmm. Not sure I like that neologism to describe social networks. And what’s wrong with saying social network anyway?

And then I read a great post about ‘10 Things we can Learn from Facebook’ by Susan Mernit. And she too can’t be bothered to write social network or networks. Susan refers to them as ‘social nets’.

Usually I’m a big fan of made-up words, but in this case I just think that ‘socnets’ or ‘social nets’ takes away from the meaning of the word.

Is there a pedants group on Facebook I can join?

Technorati tags: B.L.+Ochman; Susan+Mernit; social+networks; pedants; Facebook