Blog Category: Social media

What’s private on the Web?

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Hillary Mason of bit.ly wrote a nice summary of some key issues raised in the recent Search in Social Media 2010 workshop. (For other commentary, see Daniel Tunkelang”s post and our pre-workshop comments.) Hillary asked several important questions, that break out into two main topics: what and how can we compute from social data on one hand, and what are the implications of those computations. Aspects such as computing relevance, how to architect social search engines, and how to represent users’ information needs in appropriate ways all represent the what and how category. We can be sure that adequate  engineering solutions will be found these problems.

The second topic, however, is more problematic because it deals more with the impact that technology has on the individual and on society, rather than about technology per se.

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SSM2010

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Last Wednesday Jeremy and I participated in the SSM2010 workshop organized by Ian Soboroff (NIST), Eugene Agichtein (Emory University), Daniel Tunkelang (Google), and Marti Hearst (University of California, Berkeley).  It was a full day of panels, discussions and poster presentations on a variety of topics related to search, to social media, and how to combine the two. In an earlier post, I wrote about one way that we can characterize the space, and Daniel did an excellent job of summarizing the workshop, which was also cross-posted  at BLOG@CACM.

I am still trying to digest all that I learned during the day, but I can say that one of the challenges was live-tweeting the event. I was one of several people who tweeted about what was happening in the panels and about the issues that were raised. Over 500 tweets were sent and resent with the workshop’s hashtag by people at the event and elsewhere. It was interesting to see other people pick up some of the topics and comment on them. In particular, several of my twitter friends who are not part of the SSM research community had commented on the tweets, and retweeted certain aspects of the discussion.

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What do we mean by “Search in Social Media”?

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Jeremy and I have been busy preparing for the Search in Social Media (SSM2010) workshop. We thought we would start at the beginning and ask what people understood by the term “search in social media.” Workshops often spend a bunch of time on definitions, and we thought we’d jump in early. We’ve talked about social search before, but that was without reference to social media.

We think the phrase ‘search in social media’ has been used to refer to both the information being searched, and to the process for doing so. The information is standard user-generated content — tweets, blog posts, comment threads, tags, etc. The process, however, seems less well understood.

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SSM2010 panel: Research Directions for Search in Social Media

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The third workshop on Search in Social Media (SSM2010) will held in conjunction with WDSM 2010 in early February. The workshop, organized this year by Eugene Agichtein (Emory University), Marti Hearst (University of California, Berkeley), Ian Soboroff (NIST), and Daniel Tunkelang (Google), will bring together academics and people from industry (including the major search engines). The keynote will be given by Jan Pedersen, who is now Chief Scientist for Core Search at Microsoft. It will address issues of what the big players are doing, what the more specialized social media companies are up to, and will also tackle important research problems in the field.

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DarwinTunes: a social experiment

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DarwinTunes bills itself as a “test tube for cultural evolution.” It’s an online experiment being run by researchers at Imperial College London. We often talk about the evolution of social media or cultural memes – but is that just a metaphor, or is it really evolution?

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Print media and augmented reality

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December’s issue of Esquire features augmented reality not only on its cover but a couple of places inside. This is not the first instance of AR on print media, of course, but it’s nicely done. I’d love to see this sort of thing make its way into scientific publishing eventually, for 3d and animated illustrations and data visualization. Right now authors can put digital content related to their work out on the web, but it’s an altogether different subjective experience when it’s integrated into the printed object (book, journal, etc.).

Here’s a video tour of the AR in the Esquire issue:

And comments from mashable:

“Print might be in trouble, but Esquire magazine won’t be going gently into that good night. The December issue of the magazine will feature augmented reality pages that will come alive when displayed in front of a webcam.

Augmented reality is a trend and phenomenon we’re starting to see more and more uses of across the web. In March, GE played with augmented reality while showing off its Smart Grid technology. Earlier this month, musician John Mayer released an augmented reality enhanced music video. The Disney.com iPhone app that was released earlier this week also utilizes some AR features.”

RT done wrong

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Retweet annotated with the new Twitter metadataSome time this summer Twitter announced its RT (retweet) API, a structured way of expressing the forwarding (often with comments) of others tweets that has, until now, been expressed informally by prepending the letters RT to another person’s tweet. The practice of retweeting (described in a forth-coming paper by danah boyd, Scott Golder, and Gilad Lotan) has evolved several conventions for crediting the source and incorporating comments. In addition to forwarding and commenting on the message, it can also serve as a useful mechanism to introduce people to others worth following.

The new API formalizes this notion, but also subverts established practice.

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“Authoritarian Governments in Cyberspace”

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A while ago I wrote about Evgeny Morozov’s Stanford talk (“Authoritarian Governments in Cyberspace”) about the use of social networking and other technology by authoritarian governments. While the Stanford talk was in some ways similar to his TED talk, it had more content and a slightly different focus. For those interested in the details, here’s a link to the slides.

While the slides were meant to illustrate rather than to echo the talk, they draw considerably on sources available on the web that could be followed up with a simple search.  It will be interesting to watch this space over the next few years as technology evolves and as governments get even more sophisticated.  While much of the effort that Morozov documents is aimed at controlling citizens of these regimes, the core competencies involved are also central to cyber-warfare.

Social Media Rules

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Social media: a bigger game-changer than the Gutenberg press? More popular than porn on the Internet?

Socialnomics has collected some very persuasive stats into this beautifully designed dynamic-text video, “Social Media Revolution.” It’s worth watching in HD, full-screen mode (you’ll need to click through to YouTube for that though). Also, some YouTube commenters take issue with a few of the stats – so I wouldn’t necessarily use this for source material. I think it’s true in essence, however.