Monday, 11 February 2008

Integrating 3G Video and Second Life

Libra White dropped by to see one of the demonstrations, which is linking Second Life with 3G mobile networks. To show her what is possible, we took a video of her using a 3G mobile, and then streamed it onto a video wall in Second Life.

Here is a photo of Libra (in real life) in front of the video of Libra in Second Life.

What a difference a day makes

It is the first day of the 2008 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The exhibition center is now full of people, and unrecognizable from yesterday evening, when it was full of scaffolding and workmen putting the finishing touches to the booths. We're trying to answer the question: what does Web 2.0 mean for the mobile industry?

One of the demonstrations is linking a blog (yes this blog) to mobile devices. The IBM Telecom Solutions Lab has linked the Atom feed from my
Web 2.0 and Telecom blog to a Service Delivery Platform (SDP) in IBM's Montpellier lab.

Each time I create or update a post in my blog, the SDP send an SMS notification to a list of subscribers.

An example of the how it appears to a subscriber

Saturday, 9 February 2008

What is the effect of mobile Internet on blogging?

this post is being written on an iPhone It leads to the question how mobile internet access will affect blogging?

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Research on Social Networks

Accurate Data about Social Networks

There are lots of media articles about dangers of Facebook, MySpace, Insert your favourite social network service. The New York Times is a good source, as is the BBC. There is relatively little hard research, either on the number of people using social network services, the demographics (age group, sex) or on how they are used.

There is one researcher actively working on social networks, and that is danah boyd (sic) variously of the University of California-Berkeley and Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School. Intern at Google. Not an academic lightweight then.

danah's research breaks down into a number of areas


Overviews of social network services, including contributions to BT and Vodafone. These are short summaries for a general business or technical audience

Identity Management

Identity management in social networks, including the requirements for identity management, and the technical issues of various identity management models. This is particularly important to telcos given the recent announcements from the OpenID Foundation.

    • danah's thesis from MIT "Faceted Id/entity: Managing Representation in a Digital World." danah boyd. Cambridge, MA: MIT Master's Thesis. August 9, 2002" Describes identity management systems as a potential control point, with Microsoft Passport as one example. It includes a technical analysis of the ways in which social networks are constructed, often out of relatively independent sub-nets. Finally there is a chapter on SecureId, an identity management tool for the end user.

History of Social Networks

  • The rise and fall of various of social network sites. Facebook and MySpace were not the first social networks, not by a long way, since SixDegrees started in 1997. This also discusses what features do and don't work.

Use of Social Networks

How social networks are actually used - the anthropology of social networks - based on interviews and an analysis of 10000 profiles. Has some interesting insights about the differences between MySpace and Facebook in the USA.

Other Sources

The Pew Internet and American Life Project and Harris Interactive are also actively publishing research on the use of internet communications.

  • Teens and Social Media (Dec 2007) contains the observation that 64% of teens (12 to 17) have created online content. The Web 2.0 generation is here!
  • Trends and Tudes Volume 6 Issue 2 (Feb 2007) has data on how often people use different types of communication. In the US, the usage of email, instant messaging and social networking websites exceeds text messaging in the 12-17 age group.

There is a huge age bias in the current use of social network sites. There are some interesting implications for the providers of social networks, which for example some telcos are looking to become. The importance of an identity management model and the supporting technology is key. The requirements are more complex that they appear to be at first, since one technical issue is how to provide multiple identities or identity personas?

Text in the UK

There are some interesting statistics in the UK papers at the moment about the volume of text messages sent in the UK. I first saw them in the london paper last night, but they were also in the Guardian.

The data is from the Mobile Data Association, who publish regular updates on the use of SMS and MMS in the UK.

6.1 billion text messages were sent in the UK in December 2007. Using Ofcom's latest number of 69.7 million mobile handsets in the UK, this is 87.5 messages per person per month (on average), or nearly 3 texts a day. Of course the distribution of the number of messages sent per person is not uniform.

The other interesting statistic is 57.62 million picture messages (ie MMS) in December, which equates to each person sending 10 MMS per year. I know I have never sent an MMS. The prohibitive early tarrifs of GPB 1.50 per MMS, compared to GPB 0.10 per SMS put me off. How many other people are in the same position?

The next question is how does this compare to the usage of Web 2.0 communications tools: Instant Messaging and Social Networking?

Thursday, 31 January 2008

The Coming Chasm: Digital Aliens vs Digital Natives

One of the questions I have been trying to work out for a while is why does it seem that the majority of users of social network services like Facebook and MySpace are under 25? The only exception seems to be LinkedIn, whose users are mostly in the technology industry. I'd heard the idea of digital natives (people who grew up with digital technology) but didn't know how important it was.

So, I have taken the UK national population statistics, which describe the number of people in each age group. For each age group I then estimated the percentage of the group that had access to digital technology when they were growing up. It is an increasing percentage over time, starting in the late 1970s. There were computers in schools in the late 1970s: I was very lucky because my school had one. They were exceptionally few and far between (ours was made by the inspired head of physics, Tony Compton). With the introduction of 'affordable' PCs such as the Apple II / PET / BBC Micro / IBM PC, there was an increase in the numbers of computers in schools in the early 1980s, with a further increase in the late 1980s, until UK government policy mandated computers in schools in the 1990s. Now we have computer suites in most schools, and children from from all but deprived backgrounds have access to a computer at home. The result is this graph.

Suddenly the split between the population under 24 and over 24 becomes very clear, and more importantly, we can see how it is derived from ICT in education and at home.


There are massive implications for all employers in general. Facility with communications is the defining characteristic, and this is likely to change the way in which we do business. The employers on Wall Street who have been banning access to Facebook, probably need to think again, because it may just replace the corporate email system.


  • Each bar represents one agr group in the UK population. Percentages are % of the total UK population.
  • The right hand side (the smiling faces) represents people who had access to information and computing technology (ICT) during and after school. The left hand side (the aliens) represents those who did not have access to ICT at school.
  • This work is based on the UK, because the relevant data is published by UK National Statistics in Population Trends, No 128, Summer 2007, Table 1.4 at . It would be interesting to construct a similar graph for other countries.
  • The slightly odd age group 60-64 is not a mistake, but is part of the underling UK population data set. It is due to a recent change to a common retirement age of 65 for men and women.