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Twitter Analytics – Analytic.ly

analytic.ly PeopleBrowsr, a company that conducts social search, brand engagement and data analysis of social networks has recently released a new tool – called Analytic.ly. The company believes that this tool will be beneficial for both its developers and users.

What is Analytic.ly?

So, what does this tool do? For a start, it shows Twitter conversations – that is, tweets – from users across the world. However, the conversations is not presented in the conventional “raw” form. Instead, PeopleBrowsr shows them in custom graphs as well as fancy reports. These tweets will also be stored as well as indexed. The purpose of this is to help professional and other researchers in getting both historical as well as current data related to their topics.

twitter analytics for brand

The new interface is also very user friendly. Most users will find it extremely easy to search through the twitter conversations. For those users who subscribe to the premium features, PeopleBrowsr will also provide a multi-feature dashboard that is going to take the experience of research to a new level. However, subscription is not free; it costs at least $20 every month. The price increases with the number of features subscribed.

So far, Analytic.ly represents the most developed application designed for analyzing the information available through tweets. The competitive advantage of Analytic.ly is the high number of features it provides. This makes it possible for users to quickly find and record information on how users of Twitter perceive current events and brands. On the other hand, brands can find which users like their brands the most, and which users influence other users about their brands.

However, the benefits of Analytic.ly are not limited to its users only. The developers will have access to the data and tweets of almost a year. This makes it possible for them to keep track of new applications, products and services. In addition, they can know the keywords which are currently popular among users.

twitter analytics


How Much Is Your Facebook Fan Worth?

facebook-fan-page - How much is it worth?

Vitrue, a a social media marketing platform company, has recently tried to find the value of each “Fan” of a Facebook Page. Their findings, which were published in the recent edition of AdWeek, show that the value is somewhere around $3.6 per fan (per year). The firm has determined that, on average, a fan base of 1 million translates into at least $3.6 million in equivalent media over a year.

Vitrue’s findings are based on impressions generated in the Facebook news feed, the stream of recent updates from users’ networks. The company analyzed Facebook data from all its clients with a combined total of around 41 millions fans. And each client received about $3.60 in return from every user who becomes a Fan of the client’s Page on Facebook.

These figures may not apply to all companies. That is because Vitrue’s study was only limited to its clients, and each client has at least 1 million fans of their Page. Thus the figures may be different for those companies whose Pages have less than 1 million Fans.
However, the figures may be accurate for those Pages with 1 million fans. If there are two posts published by a company on its Page (with 1 million Fans) daily, then a total of 60 million (= 2 x 30 x 1 million) impressions by the company will be formed every month. Since the cost of 1000 impressions is $5 – as determined by Vitrue, the cost of the 60 million impressions will be $300,000 (= 60 million x 5/1000). This translated into a cost of $3.6 million (= 300,000 x 12) per year. Thus the return on each of the 1 million fans is $3.6.

These figures are important to all companies who are using Facebook as a medium to promote their brands. For a few companies, the return may be even greater than $3.6. This happens because the Fans may share the posts with their friends on Facebook which creates a viral effect.


Google Wants to Prevent Suicides

The world’s largest search engine – Google – is popular for making drastic changes to make its site better for its users. Recently, the search engine has attempted to help users who are probably thinking of committing suicide. How? Now every time a person searches for “suicide” or anything related to suicide, Google will show a phone number that the user can call to get counseling. The number will be shown beside a red phone icon. This number is a toll-free one and connects the user to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Google wants to prevent suicide

The word “suicide” or its other form must be present in the search query; for instance, both “suicidal thoughts” and “ways to commit suicide” will result in Google showing the phone number. Google has confirmed that the number will be put above than other results; the number will also be more visible than advertisement content. In this way, the search engine aims to prevent suicide in the country.

Google has conceived the idea for some time now; however, the idea was materialized only recently – on March 31. The main person responsible with this move is Dr. Roni Zeiger, who is the company’s chief health strategist. However, Dr. Zeiger admitted that the idea was not his; instead, it came from a similar action of the search engine to show a phone number (of the national poison control hotline) every time a person searched for “poison emergency”. This idea, in turn, was formed by a user of Google.

However, nobody is certain on how effective the change is going to be. The uncertainty may be attributed to the limited ability of a search engine to know about the true intentions of the user. For instance, the search query must contain the word “suicide” or other forms of the same word.

The service is only limited to United States at this moment.


Bing Now Pull Links from Twitter

Bing is planning to incorporate Twitter updates with its search results. It is currently testing the idea with a select group of users of Bing. These users reported that they are getting Twitter messages along with the results from their search queries. This week, Bing formally announced about its plan to integrate Twitter into its search results. Bing has also shared some details on how it is going to work.

The function of the Twitter integration is actually two-fold. First of all, Bing will try to include “hot/trending” issues related to the search queries. In this case, the tweets received from Twitter will best serve the purpose. The tweets will also be clearly distinguished from normal search results since they would appear under the heading called “Social results about…”.

twitter-in-bing

Secondly, Bing will also try to keep its users updated with the most popular links using Twitter data to show you the most popular shared links for navigational queries. So if you’re looking for the most popular celebrity news on TMZ, Bing will show you which links people are sharing the most on Twitter.

bing search within sites

Bing will make the Twitter integration available to all users in the U.S. as soon as the test is over. Bing and Google are both trying to include Twitter – as much as they can – in their search results. For instance, Twitter “smart answers” – which show tweets from famous users of Twitter – are available on Bing. The site also offers a search interface (bing.com/twitter) that shows results from only Twitter. On the other hand, real-time “tweets” are shown every time a user sends a search query on Google.

The situation clearly demonstrates the fierce competition between Bing and Google, both of which are integrating Twitter to improve their real-time search results.


Facebook Launches – Facebook Questions

facebook questionsRecently, Facebook has added a “Questions” product to the facebook homepage of a few users. Wait! Don’t look for it now as this product has not been rolled out to everyone yet. This “Facebook Questions” product has many similarities with Quora as well as Yahoo! Answers. The developers of Quora initially worked at Facebook before they decided to create their own firm. Quora has become very popular over the past years. Recently, it has also been able to get some funding, which, according to market data, was worth about $86 million!

Market analysts predict that Facebook developed the “Questions” product to compete with both Quora and Yahoo! Answers. Facebook already is in a conflict with the former – since it was developed by people who parted from Facebook. It is not clear whether or not Facebook would be successful in its endeavor. However, one thing is certain: the tension between Facebook and Quora will greatly intensify if the former launches the “Questions” product.

Since Facebook has not yet officially disclosed information on its “Questions” product, nobody knows how it works. A few suggest that Facebook is still testing the product. After the testing is over, “Questions” may be available to only those users who are willing to pay for it – to increase the exposure of their ads to targeted Facebook users. Others suggest that the product may be offered for free to all users of Facebook as a “value-added service”.

The “Questions” product also bears similarities with Facebook’s past creation – “Polls”. Facebook dropped out the “Polls” product only a few months after it launched it. Facebook is expected to roll out the “Questions” product as soon as the testing of the product is over. What the product will end up doing is a matter of much speculation. In the meantime, people are eagerly waiting for a formal announcement from Facebook.

Update: Allthefacebook blog has some latest scoop on this news. They are saying that Facebook Questions is an Aardvark competitor and not a Quora killer. Blake Ross, the Director of Product at Facebook responded to a question that was posted on Quora about this issue. Read his answer below:

Why is Facebook creating a Q&A Product To Compete with Quora?

Blake Ross, Director of Product, Facebook writes:

I’ll answer this since I’m involved in the questions prototype at Facebook.

Real-time Q&A backed by people has been a dream of mine since I joined Facebook three years ago. If you ever used the old Facebook Polls product, you know how powerful it is to toss a question into the ether and watch results stream in from around the globe in seconds. People already ask logistical and recommendation questions on Facebook (e.g. “Is Desperate Housewives a repeat tonight?” or “What’s a good Italian restaurant around here?”) and we’d like to see what happens when we combine that use case with the magic of the Polls product to deliver instantaneous results.

There’s been a lot of hype about “the Q&A space” recently with the acquisition of Aardvark, the launch of Quora and the expansion of StackOverflow, but I consider this typical blogosphere theatrics. All these products are pursuing very different use cases. For instance, Quora is focused on creating a forum-like environment for participants to iterate on a knowledgebase, while Aardvark is focused on getting really fast results for more day-to-day queries. Given that Facebook is a social utility, our focus is on delivering practical value to users who need answers quickly from the people around them (whether socially or spatially). This question itself is a good example of something that Facebook Questions wouldn’t answer well, nor do we care to.

Facebook’s experimentation in this “space” is actually a direct result of internal circumstances at the company rather than all this recent outside activity. For the last few years, we didn’t have enough engineers to make significant, sustained investments in our applications (e.g. photos and events). Earlier this year, we finally got comfortable enough with our recruiting numbers to reorganize the product engineering group into dedicated application teams of 4-5 people each. That’s why you’re suddenly seeing improvements to applications that haven’t evolved in years, such as our recent launch of higher res photos. One of our app teams is charged with experimentation and we decided to pursue this vision of real-time Q&A now that the resources were finally in place.
Observers of the tech industry often have a vastly oversimplified view of the world. I remember when we launched Facebook Lite and it was considered to be our “Twitter killer” because the Facebook/Twitter “battle” was the meme of the month, even though I’m pretty sure the Lite team never even uttered the word Twitter during development. Likewise, our recent purchase of Octazen was somehow an answer to Google Buzz (http://www.businessinsider.com/f…), as was our AOL/Connect partnership (http://www.thebigmoney.com/blogs…). Your question implies that Facebook is setting out to compete with Quora so perhaps we’re in for another month of unfortunate headlines.

Sensationalism notwithstanding, I’m not someone who’s driven by “killing” someone else’s baby. There are too many new and exciting things to give birth to. Even if Facebook were led by stoic businessmen (it’s not), a “Quora-killer” wouldn’t make objective sense. Quora is a terrific product built on Facebook Connect. It isn’t competitive with the core use cases of Facebook, which is why Facebook Questions is pursuing different use cases.
I was one of Quora’s earliest users, and like everyone else here, I’m now an addict. I’m also friends with Quora’s founding team. You can bet I’ll be rooting them on in their inevitable march to success.


Google Buzz Buttons for Your Blog

Google Buzz is designed for social networking as well as sending messages to friends. Many users also share interesting web links that they like through Google Buzz. However, unlike other sites where links could be shared directly, users would first have to copy the link from the site and then paste it inside Google Buzz. As a result, they needed to leave one browser window to go to another. This might not seem like a huge problem for people who share one or two links every day. However, imagine the condition of the active users of Google Buzz – who share around 30 to 40 links every day. They must have gotten real tired with using Google Buzz.

In order to make it easier for its users to share links through Google Buzz, popular sites like TechCrunch and Mashable included Google Buzz buttons in their sites. Google followed the lead of these sites and tried to create buttons which could be included in other sites. The result was Buzz buttons that Google made available on its site (buzz.google.com/stuff). Users will be given a simple JavaScript snippet that they can just copy and paste to get the Google Buzz Buttons up and running on their site.

google-buzz-buttons

According to Google, The Official Google Buzz buttons will be visible on several popular sites such as Buzzzy, The Washington Post, The Next Web, The Huffington Post, TweetDeck, Glamour, Vinehub, YouTube, Disqus, Blogger, PBS Parents, MySpace, PBS NewsHour, GigaOM, Social Work and many other mainstream media websites. Even TechCruch and Mashable have dropped out their own version of Buzz buttons that they created, and included Google’s official Buzz buttons on their site.


This is What Twitter’s Revenue Model Should Have Been

Twitter has just announced their revenue model (sort of) via ads which they are calling “Promoted Tweets“.

Basically it will allow advertisers to “promote” their regular tweets for more eyeballs and thus it will show up in the twitter search and also in user’s timeline based on the context. John Battelle has a great post up on his blog where he compares the program with Google Adwords. Like adwords, Promoted Tweets seems to have certain elements/checking that will ensure that only ‘well performed’ ad lives. (Just Like Quality Score of Google Adwords). John also believes that this will be welcomed by developers because they will finally find a way to monetize their efforts!

But What about the publishers?

Who made twitter, “Twitter”? Its Us! Our time, our efforts and our 140 characters of tweets has made twitter this big today. Twitter/Developers by right doesn’t own any of the content, we (publishers) own our tweets.

One of the main reason for which Google’s Advertising platform – Adwords is so successful today is because of its other side – Google Adsense. Thousands of publishers were pretty much promoting Google’s advertising platform for free to the whole world when they opted in to that service. And thats how all the online advertisers eventually got to know about adwords. Because of adsense, the advertisers also believed in the platform — Ad inventory is the key and google is by far the biggest due to adsense. Adsense did our web economy a lot of good too – It encouraged new publishers to come in and produce more content which now powers the whole web.

So when twitter says that they are going to put “promoted tweets” on my stream, it sounds insane. Twitter don’t own my tweets, how can they just insert a paid tweet inside? Imagine if Google didn’t had Adsense porgram today, They could have started framing every website that it sends traffic to from its search and on top of the site they could show contextual ads inside a frame. How irritating would that be?

I’m glad they didn’t do it! Because Google doesn’t own the content of the web. They are just a medium for users to find me. But what google did was smart, they made an option for me to OPT-IN to their program that allows me to show their ads and receive a ‘cut’ for it. That’s fair I’d say.

What Twitter Needs to do

If twitter’s revenue model is really “Ads” (I thought there were other cool ones) they really need to get us (publishers) involved in it. Our tweets combined actually make twitter. So twitter shouldn’t be making money on what we are creating. Well, they certainly can if they get us inside their advertising eco-system.

So will this work? Well I don’t have a full proof plan yet, but this is what I can think of right now. We (publishers) can opt-in to twitter’s advertising platform which will give access of our demographics/profile information to the advertisers. So an advertiser like DELL can choose to promote a tweet to all the tech enthusiasts in “USA & Canada” or the whole world. As a publisher, I’ll agree to auto “re-tweet” the advertisers message to my followers using the twitter’s official re-tweet function. This way my followers will see “Dell” on their tweet stream and not me, but they will know that they are seeing that on their stream because of me.

Since the ads will be engaging, my followers can interact directly with Dell. But twitter should be able to track that “my re-tweet” to my followers actually converted into a conversation between one of my follower & Dell. (a conversion for Dell on this case).

Based on my performance (no of conversions/actions taken), I can be given a small percentage of the advertiser’s ad spend. The percentage may vary depending on my account performance and this will encourage publishers to write ‘better tweets’. I’ll engage more with my audience (my followers), and eventually they will be more supportive of my stream. And its a win-win situation for everyone. If a particular user doesn’t want to see ads, he/she can simply choose to un-follow the publisher.

What do you think? Comment here or reply via twitter – @saadkamal

What others are saying:

The Twitter Ad Model Revealed (What Were You Expecting, a Pony?) – GigaOm

Full Details On Twitter’s Long-Awaited Ad Platform: Promote – Techcrunch

Twitter’s Advertising Scheme is Delightfully Boring – Just As It Should Be – Read Write Web


Work in Facebook Singapore

I know many people from Singapore and Malaysia who always dream of working for a company like Google or Facebook. Google already has well established office in Singapore and they have plans of starting one in Malaysia. But for Facebook to branch out in Asia always seemed like too much of a stretch.

But very recently facebook has expanded into several countries over the past years. The social networking site plans to continue such expansions even in 2010. Now it is focusing on Singapore, where it is planning to open its office before the summer ends. The company has confirmed that it has been successful in obtaining a registered name – Facebook Singapore – from the country’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority. Laster Chan, a blogger actually went through the trouble of acquiring the BizFile for 5 sing dollers. You can download the document directly from his site here.

According to its ACRA listing, the company’s registered address is at Millenia Tower where law firm Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow is currently based. The law firm provides corporate secretarial services to Facebook which is one of several clients of the firm using the same address for listing and legal purposes.

The company has also listed six job openings for its Singapore office. These jobs are in areas such as business development and sales. As a result, the people who will be hired for these jobs may have to work for expanding the business in neighboring countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. These countries currently have the fastest growing number of Facebook users.

Last March, Facebook has also opened offices in India – in the city of Hyderabad. This sudden expansion of Facebook can be attributed to the growing number of Asian people who use Facebook. There are also other reasons for why Facebook has chosen these two cosmopolitan cities for expansion. Of them, the main reason may be that both these cities can offer a large number of possible employees who can speak multiple languages. This will help Facebook to retain its dominant position in these countries as well as in the neighnoring countries.

In the meantime, Facebook Singapore is planning to look for application developers. For this purpose, it has purchased Octazen, a contact importer firm located in Malaysia. This firm is providing 2 employees to Facebook. These employees will provide services to Facebook Singapore while residing in Malaysia.

(Source: Inside Facebook)


Gmail Nested Labels and Sneak Peek

A few users have always been annoyed with Gmail’s single pane interface as they need to open emails individually in order to view them. Some considered it inefficient & a waste of time. These users will definitely benefit from Gmail’s new move – Gmail Sneak Peak – which shows the users a preview of the emails that they have selected; these users will NOT need to open the emails in order to view them. This is similar to Mac OS X which shows a preview every time the spacebar is hit.

However, users will need to activate Gmail Sneak Peak in Labs before they can use its features. Then, in order to see the preview, they must right click the email or press “h”. The preview will not be comprised of the entire email; however, it will be sufficiently detailed to make the user decide whether the email needs to be opened or not. The user also needs to press “j” and “k” – instead of “y” – to move from one preview to another. If the user presses “y”, he or she can still scroll through the emails; however, the Sneak Peek pane will get closed.

gmail-labs-new

gmail-nasted-labelsAt the same time, Google has started Nested Labels – a feature that makes it possible for users to arrange their labels in an order. Then the user will have to use slashes (/) to organize the messages. For instance, if the user forms a label “Home” and wants to include “Family” and “Vacation” within it, then he or she needs to create a total of three labels using slashes: “Home”, “Home/Family” and “Home/Vacation”. The user may also include other labels then, such as “Home/Family/Kids”. In this way, a total of three labels – “Home/Family”, “Home/Vacation” and “Home/Family/Kids” – will be put under the main label “Home”.

How to Activate Gmail Nested Labels & Sneak peek?

Both these features are still a Gmail Lab’s feature and hasn’t graduated yet to be rolled into the final product. Thus you will need to manually activate these two features individually from your Gmail Labs page. To do so simply follow the instruction below:

Step 1: Login to your Gmail account

Step 2: Click on “Settings” on the top right hand corner.

Step 3: Click on the “Labs” Tab on the settings page.

Step 4: Look for the features that you want to enable and click on “Save Changes” at the bottom. That’s it! You are done.


Apple iAd Mobile Advertising Platform [Official]

apple-iad-mobile-advertisingApple has just officially announced their new iAd Mobile advertising platform in the iPhone OS 4.0 event in San Francisco. Previously many have speculated that apple is baking their own mobile advertising platform in the oven for sometime after acquiring the mobile advertising company Quattro Wireless for massive $275 million early this year.

What is Apple iAd ?

Apple iAd is Mobile Advertising platform for the iPhone OS4 which will eventually power all the iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch (3rd gen onwards) & of course the most talked about iPad. iAd will be a built directly onto the core OS thus developers will be able to use that platform to monetize the apps that they make for all the apple mobile/handheld products.

Steve Jobs raised an interesting point about mobile advertising, he says – unlike personal computers where people go to a search engine to search for stuff most of the time, on a mobile device they are always inside different apps! So advertising on search isn’t very relevant when it comes to mobile advertising.

The average user spends over 30 minutes using apps on their phone. If we said we wanted to put an ad up every 3 minutes, that’d be 10 ads per device per day — about the same as a TV show. We’re going to soon have 100m devices. That’s a billion ad opportunities per day! This is a pretty serious opportunity, and it’s an incredible demographic. But we want to do more than that. We want to change the quality of the advertising. We’re all familiar with interactive ads on the web. They’re interactive, but they’re not capable of delivering emotion

Right now there are thousands of Free mobile apps out there which are ad supported. However most of these ads are poorly designed and doesn’t engage the users. One of the biggest issue previously was – there wasn’t any multitasking on the iPhone OS. So basically if a user takes an action on the ad it would totally interrupt/close whatever the user was doing previously. However iAd can now totally take the advantage of the the new iPhone OS4 Multi Tasking feature and deliver ads that are Interactive & also deliver emotion.

What is in it for Mobile App Developers?

With the launch of this platform, apple will run some sort of advertising inventory. Thus if you are an app developer, you can be sure to find advertisers for your app. Also this might push the ‘freemium’ model more, as developers would want to stop charging for apps to get more user base and eventually make the money off from advertising via iAd platform. Most importantly Apple is being very transparent about the revenue sharing of iAd, 60% of what advertisers pay will go to the publisher/developer of the app.

What is so new about iAd Platform?

You must be thinking, why is this any cooler than the other mobile advertising that you may have already experienced on your mobile device? Well, Steve jobs did show some cool iAd demo and after taking a look at some of them I have to say that I’m pretty impressed. In fact I haven’t seen anything quite like this before. The most intriguing thing about the iAds are:

  • The ads are very interactive: On the first demo, jobs showed off an advertisement inside the Toy Story app and the ad sort of shows up as an integrated microsite in a window. They even included a game inside this ad so the user is tempted to interact with the ad
  • The ads are location aware & allows in ad purchases: This is definitely revolutionary. Imagine buying movie tickets directly from an Ad. The Ad can use your location and tell you that movie “x” is playing in the cinema near you and you can just click buy to get your ticket!
  • The ads are motion sensitive, thus more interactive! Steve jobs shows a Nike ad where it shows dunks progressing through the years. and you just need to shake your iPhone to get another dunk!

iAd Mobile Advertising Demo

Jobs mentions that – “…in addition to ad agencies being able to make these things, there are hundreds of thousands of iPhone app devs who know how to make these things. Emotion plus interactivity. The ads keep you in your app, so you’re much more likely to click on then and explore.”

So now apple seems like a serious threat for Google. They pretty much dominate the mobile industry and now they seem to be getting comfortable in the mobile advertising space as well.

What do you think of iAd Platform? Share in comments!

More iAd Stories:

Apple Announces iAd Mobile Advertising Platform – Techcrunch

Apple Debuts Both Ad Platform and Ad Network: iAd – GigaOM

Mobile Advertising Is At A Turning Point, With Google, Apple And The FTC Determining The Future – Mobile Marketing Watch

Steve Jobs Says ‘Most Mobile Advertising Really Sucks,’ So Apple Is Introducing the iAd Platform – Business Insider

Apple iAd brings ads, cash money to third-party iPhone apps – Engadget

More discussions happening in Techmeme

(Hat off to Ryan Block of GDGT for the awesome coverage. See the full coverage of iPhone OS4 event here.)


Facebook Made Changes to Status Updates

facebook-logoFacebook, the world’s most popular social networking site, has been on the news for some time now. Over the past year, it has been making a lot of changes in its website in order to make the experience of social networking hassle-free for both its users and developers. It is back on the news radar again. This time it has focused its attention on applications which are used for status updates.

There are a number of applications on Facebook through which users can update their statuses – a method called “stream publishing”. Previously, Facebook allowed these statuses to be of as many words as users wanted. However, on April 8, the company announced – through a post published on the facebook developers page – that it was going to making a few changes to the stream publishing method. First of all, the statuses can no longer be of unlimited words. In fact, the word limit is now 420 characters only.

Facebook did not provide any additional information on how it arrived at this figure. Although many users may initially perceive the limit as too low, they would be happy to know that the limit is still much higher than those provided by other social networking sites. For instance, Twitter allows a maximum of 140 characters for each tweet. Many users had not been at all surprised by this announcement since they had started facing the limit long before the announcement came.

Also, users can no longer put any action link or attachment on the statuses – making users more aware of the difference between normal status updates and status updates through applications. However, if the users decide to use the action links and attachments, the status will show as a “regular stream story” – instead of a “status update”. In this case, the users cannot view the statuses on the upper part of their profiles. Neither can their Friends will find the statuses on their States Updates page.

This news may be disappointing to developers of the applications since the move by Facebook removes some of the fun of updating statuses through applications. However, the social networking site believes that the move will allow the applications to be similar to status.set.


Privacy Lovers can now Opt-out of Google Analytics

Google Anlaytics - Opt-OutPrivacy freaks lovers now has the ability to Opt-out of Google Analytics tracking on a browser level. Last week Google announced on a blog post that google analytics team is currently working a browser based plugin that can totally give user control to opt-themselves out from being tracked by Google Analytics. This way users can feel more comfortable about their privacy and can refuse to share any information with the site owners that runs the Google analytics program.

Google already collects massive amount of data about all of us when we are searching the web. But they have been always been upfront about what data they collect. See the video below by Maile Ohye, a support engineer of Google. She pretty much explains what basic data Google collects every time you search the web using Google. She also explains why its important for Google to store certain information on their servers to give users a better search experience.

But none of these so called stored information is actually ‘personal information’. For instance, its not your name, social security number or your credit card number. But still Google has been bashed over an over again about ‘Privacy’. I agree that Google probably knows more about us than anybody else, however we all choose to share that information with them! We live in a very open world.

In fact anybody who has a facebook account shouldn’t even talk about ‘privacy’! You have probably put up all sorts of information up their and sometimes without you even knowing things that you assumed to be ‘private’ becomes public. Not that facebook does this willingly, but it has happened before. And its likely that as we move forward more data about us will be public (e.g. Does PleaseRobMe.com ring a bell?).

I think Google is creating this whole GA Opt-out browser addon, just for their own strategic advantage. They know very well that no one will go through the trouble of installing it anyway. But at least when they get into those big privacy battles, they can show that they do ‘care’ about privacy and users have an option to be totally private.

But I think people needs to change their mentality a bit here. On the internet there is NO PRIVACY. If you care too much about your privacy, you shouldn’t be using the internet. Because your ISP is probably already recording more information that you can possibly imagine.

But do you actually care? I don’t!


My Thoughts on Twitter @Anywhere

In the recent South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, every single soul was expecting the twitter CEO Evan Williams to finally stand up and announce Twitter’s business plan and how they plan to monetize this sleeping monster with such a big user base and mainstream adaption.

But instead, @ev threw a brand new thing to the crowed called – @anywhere (“AT ANYWHERE”). Now what is this @Anywhere? Well I can hardly tell you much about it as twitter themselves didn’t reveal much about the service other than a very vague intro and some logos of partners who are already on board with this brand new feature of twitter.

twitter-at-anywhere (@anywhere)

What is Twitter @Anywhere?

Twitter @Anywhere is basically a platform that hopes to bring the functionality of twitter on different websites & portal rather then keeping them all confined in one place (Twitter homepage). You can compare this with what Facebook has already done with Facebook connect. Basically facebook connect allows developers to build community around their websites by seamlessly integrating Facebook using the facebook API and leveraging the 400 million users base that Facebook already has. But integrating Facebook connect does require a bit of technical skills and its not everyone’s cup of tea.

However, it seems like Twitter @Anywhere would be very easy to implement. You don’t have to be a developer or need to work with APIs to make it work. They clearly mentioned on their post that Twitter @Anywhere will work by simply throwing in few lines of JavaScript on your website. So sounds like this is going to be more like an embedded object (like the Facebook Fanbox Widget) that will probably be located at the end of articles/blogpost or can even be at the side bar. Using this object, site visitors will be able to follow you or your brand, write a comment about your site or an article, and participate in discussions with other readers. Whatever interaction your readers perform via Twitter @Anywhere, will obviously go back to twitter thus creating possibility of your content to be exposed to a much larger audience.

Twitter Co-founder Biz Stone writes:

Imagine being able to follow a New York Times journalist directly from her byline, tweet about a video without leaving YouTube, and discover new Twitter accounts while visiting the Yahoo! home page—and that’s just the beginning. Twitter has proven to be compelling in a variety of ways. With @anywhere, web site owners and operators will be able to offer visitors more.

So what do you think of Twitter @Anywhere? I know this isn’t a new concept, however I don’t see any reason for anybody to NOT use it.


Google Reader Play – Slideshow of News stream

Google has recently launched a cool new service that any news junkie would love. They are calling it – Google Reader Play (pretty weird name, don’t you think?). But anyway, I tried it and its pretty awesome!

What is Google Reader Play?

Google Reader Play is an experimental product from the Google Reader team that makes it very easy to read the best stuff on the Internet. The best part of Google Reader Play is its interface – a really sleek sliding view that makes flipping through news feeds totally child’s play.

Google Reader Play Review

Who should use Google Reader Play?

Google Reader Play is suitable for everyone! Its just a cool way to quickly skim the news and read the good stuff. Google Reader Play doesn’t really require any setup, but the news that you see is personalized to the things that you like (if you are signed in via your Google account).

Even if you are not a Google reader user or you don’t have a google account, you will still be able to use Google Reader Play without any problem.

They have some nice feedback buttons – Star, like & share that makes it easy for you to give instant feedback about the news that you are reading. Based on your input Google will personalize the play stream for you.

How to Use Google Reader Play

Simply head over to the Google Reader Play website. You will notice that items are presented one at a time, and each item is big and full-screen. After you’ve read an item, just click the next arrow to move to the next one, or click any item on the filmstrip below to fast-forward. Of course, you can click the title or image of any item to go to the original version. And since so much of the good stuff online is visual, it automatically enlarge images and auto-play videos full-screen,

Will This Replace My RSS Reader?

Absolutely not! Nothing can possibly replace your RSS reader because it follows an opt-in model. You know exactly which sites you have subscribed to and you know that anytime you open your reader you will have the stories from those sites right there.

However lets be honest here, do you actually follow your RSS reader anymore? I don’t and most of the people I know has gotten sick of it as its very hard to keep up with. If i dont open my RSS reader for day I’ll have hundreds of unread items the next day. Its like maintaining yet another email box! Sometimes we just want to dip into the news stream and pick up stories that everyone else loves. Thats why we all love twitter, don’t we?

So I think with this new service, you can do exactly that. No commitments, no strings attached, no unread news counts – Just dip in and consume the news that you like. Once you are done, close the browser window and there will be no hard feelings!

Give it a try today, no signup required: http://www.google.com/reader/play.

On a separate note: If you are looking for a good RSS Feed Reader that is as easy as reading a magazine, check out my RSS Reader Recommendation.


Google Public Data Explorer

Google has recently launched a new service called Google Public Data Explorer under Google Labs which offers a visual way to look at and analyze large public data sets on a variety of popular search topics. According to Google, the purpose of the new tool is to make “large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate”. Google, with its access to an immense assortment of information, is in the perfect position to help us with ways to display this information.

Users can play with the data endlessly, filtering it through various metrics and displaying it in different types of charts and graphs. Google claims that it has been using anonymous information from its users’ searches to best determine what sorts of public data are most requested, and then used that to create a list of the most popular data and statistics search topics. Those results will likely continue to inform Google’s process as it integrates more public data into its offerings.

Google Public Data Explorer

The Data Explorer tool includes data from the original three sources Google announced last year — the US Census Bureau, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the World Bank — as well as five new data providers including: Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), California Department of Education, Eurostat, US Center for Disease Control & US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Currently there are four different choices for visualization styles – bar graph, line graph, map or bubble, and each has its advantage. After choosing a visual style, you can select what data points you would like to see and set variables such as time period.

?The Google Public Data Explorer makes large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As the charts and maps animate over time, the changes in the world become easier to understand. You don’t have to be a data expert to navigate between different views, make your own comparisons, and share your findings pretty easily. Take a look at the example I created below. The animation shows internet users (per 100 people) since 1991 in relation to Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) of Malaysia & Singapore.

There is also a video by Google from last year which introduces the idea in detail:


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