January 31, 2007
The Internet and Social Networks
A new Pew Internet report done jointly with University of Toronto sociologists shows that the internet helps cultivate social networks and put them into action at times when people need help on important matters in their lives
Disputing concerns that heavy use of the internet might diminish people’s social relations, the report finds that the internet fits seamlessly with Americans’ in-person and phone encounters. With the help of the internet, people are able to maintain active contact with sizable social networks, even though many of the people in those networks do not live close to them.
The report, “The Strength of Internet Ties,” highlights how email supplements, rather than replaces, the communication people have with others in their network.
One major benefit comes when people want to mobilize their networks as they face problems or significant decisions. The Pew Internet Project survey finds that internet users are more likely than non-users to have been helped by those in their networks as they faced important events in their life.
“Internet use provides online Americans a path to resources, such as access to people who may have the right information to help deal with family health crises or find a new job,
January 23, 2007
Microsoft seeks patent on "immortal computing"
E-mail from the grave? Microsoft seeks patent on immortal computing
In this culture of instant information, some Microsoft Corp. researchers are pursuing a radical notion -- the concept of saving messages for delivery in decades, centuries or more.
The project, dubbed "immortal computing," would let people store digital information in physical artifacts and other forms to be preserved and revealed to future generations, and maybe even to future civilizations.
After all, when looking that far in the future, you never know who the end users might be.
"It is definitely a long-term project," said Andy Wilson, the Microsoft researcher whose musings on the ephemeral nature of digital information inspired the research initiative.
The previously undisclosed project came to light through a newly surfaced patent application in which the researchers explain some of the concepts they're exploring. The project seeks to address the fact that large amounts of valuable information are stored on media with limited life spans, in formats that could be rendered obsolete. Consider how quickly floppy disks disappeared.
ut the patent application, filed in June 2005 and made public this month, at least shows that they've given the concept of "immortal computing" considerable thought.
Among other things, the filing describes the potential use of durable data storage, such as advanced imaging techniques, to make sure the information survives over time. One key will be to avoid storage devices that require movable -- and potentially breakable -- internal parts.
The filing says the information could be retrieved through a separate interface, independent of the individual artifact, in part to allow the method of display to evolve with changing technology. People who store information would be able to decide in advance when and to whom it would be disclosed, using DNA or biometrics to confirm identity.
To be sure, the Microsoft researchers aren't the first to see the growing need to preserve information in the digital age.
One existing online approach is called the Handle System. Launched more than a decade ago, it assigns unique identifiers that, unlike traditional Internet addresses, can be used to find online information and media even if they're subsequently moved. The system grew out of the work of Bob Kahn, the technology pioneer who was separately responsible for the system design of the Arpanet, the forerunner to today's Internet.
"I'm delighted when anybody takes interest in this," Kahn said in an interview last week, when asked about the Microsoft Research project. "More and more information is being generated, and everybody, whether it's a corporation or individual, from time to time wants to go back and find something and they don't know where to look.
"I think there's a generic issue here that's really important for the future," he added. However, he said, there's no reason that the Handle System by itself can't be used to reference any type of informational resource.
And the fact that Microsoft has applied for a patent could raise eyebrows in the industry.
"I think it's great that they're pursuing it. If they feel like they have to patent it in order to pursue it, I guess that's a business decision they have to make," said Mark Anderson, publisher of the Strategic News Service technology newsletter. "But I would hope they wouldn't try and do it in a way which would preclude others doing the same thing."
January 15, 2007
The Absence of Abruptness
The absence of abruptness is a key element of good user interface as Kathy Sierra points out in iPhone and the Dog Ears User Experience Model.
Fluidity, follow-through and bounce.
Even if you don't notice it consciously, an animation (even of just words) feels more appealing and alive when things move in the virtual world more like things do in the real world (or even more exaggerated). It feels more lyrical, fluid... less abrupt. And that is what the iPhone UI does.
...it wasn't the scrolling that made my jaw drop... it was what happened when the scrolling stopped: it bounced! The thing actually bounced if you flicked it hard and fast enough to send it flying up to the very (or bottom) of the list before it had a chance to slow down and stop. It actually bounced. And until you've seen it slow down and bounce, you haven't felt that visceral, life-like, fluidity.
Best and Worst Call Centers
From CRM Lowdown comes the 10 best and 10 worst companies for call center service.
Of course you have to read the whole thing for the full snark.
January 14, 2007
PayPal to issue Password Key Fobs
This is big news. EBay will offer password key fobs to users.
PayPal has nearly 123 million accounts
eBay is getting ready to offer its PayPal users a password-generating key fob that promises to increase the security of the online payment service.
The device displays a new one-time password in the form of a six-digit code about every 30 seconds. PayPal clients who opt to use the device will enter this password along with their regular credentials when signing into the service. The key fob is meant as another weapon in the battle on data-thieving phishing scams.
The "PayPal Security Key" will cost $5 for personal PayPal accounts, but will be free for business accounts
The password-generating device is based on technology from VeriSign, with which eBay entered into a security partnership in 2005. Such key fobs are also used for added security by large corporations for access to corporate resources, and some banks and brokerage firms offer them to clients with a high net worth. Other companies that supply the password gadgets include RSA and Vasco.
January 12, 2007
Marketing to Introverts
Nedra Weinreich breaks the Introverts' Code of Silence and tells you how to market to introverts.
She points to this article by Jonathan Rauch on Caring for Your Introvert, the habits and needs of a little-understood group.
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?
10 Brilliant Ideas
The Top Ten Brillant Ideas That Found a Welcome in 2006.
1. The Flash-Drive Fuel Gauge
2. The Magnetic Power Cord
3. The Two-Stage Flash
4. A Record Radio Button
5. Music Beaming
6. The Video-Game Workout
7. The TrackPearl
8.The Face Finder
9. Point Without Pointing
10. The Uncomplicated Cellphone
14 million women in one week
MyFamily.com made the most impressions on 14 million women in one December week says the Center for Media Research.
Bequeathing Your Avatar
Consumers globally are creating fully fleshed out existences in the virtual world-dressing up their avatars, making friends, having affairs and buying property for their pixilated alter-egos. And now that people have multiple lives, who says you can’t live forever?
The Future: While some let their avatars drift away to online purgatory, many more leave behind specific instructions on how their virtual selves should proceed. Services offering avatar surrogates flourish, and we bequeath avatars to friends and family in our wills.