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Tag "Google"

Social Networking is the biggest and most importantly the fastest growing Internet branch at the moment. The companies have managed such a steep intake of new users over the past 18 month and most of it translated into what the company is worth.

It is what people do on the internet, they spend time on social networking sites. According to the 2011 stats published by Ken Burbary users do:
“Average user spends an average 15 hours and 33 minutes on Facebook per month, the average user visits the site 40 times per month and the average user spends an 23 minutes (23:20 to be precise) on each visit.” This is a lot of time for one network and there are many others. Most users will also be using Twitter and Gowalla and so on.

Now that the first really big hype around these sharing platforms is over the a lot of users start to rethink the practice of sharing with everybody, random and unwanted friends. They start to ask for more controle over the mechanisms behind the suggestions, the adds and the linkages. But most of all users want easier controle over what is happening around their profile.

After the 2009 wave of privacy discussion centring around Facebook and Google, most services have implemented better options, but it is getting extremely complicated to use them and manage these functions relevant. Adjusting the settings manually for each group and each page and each entry and each status and each photo and each link and each what ever…, is really taking half the fun out of the activity.

Social connections seem to be fragmented and individuals have ties to different groups of people each having different expectations, likes, standards or practices. There might be a group of work colleagues including the boss, there is the group of parents from your child’s nursery, there is a group of school friends you haven’t see in ages and there are all these nerdy people from the sunflower growing circle and so on.

You know all of them or at least have some connections to them, however certain elements do not fit from one group to the other. It’s not that you are leading a secret life in all the groups (probably you are), but the context is just different. It requires more insight to understand some of he items, inks, comments and jokes and this is relative to the groups.

Google+ you
Image taken from Google+ / The new design puts a strong emphasis on ‘you’ to reflect the software architecture focus. Also the design is slightly less comics than the other Google stuff so far. This is a good step they are taking. It has to look at bit more serious so people can trust it. This is not to say they have to drop their colours.

Very likely the work group and the parent group will not fit and so will the group of old school friends not connect to any of the content from the nerds. Managing this can be painfully complicated on existing networks. This comes as some sort of historic load of how the platforms have grown and developed. Back then there were different elements crucial, because the idea of online networking had to be introduced at first.

A new generation of social networking platforms is about to come a long and if they want to be successful they better make this management element core. Google is the first one to launch a new service with their Google+ and it is said to feature this management element very central with clever, but simple tools to adjust and handle this.

XKCD Google+
Image taken from XKCD / Google+ as discussed across offices these days.

Google+ introduces a new terminology for the wall, friends, groups and so on. It comes as Circles – a group of friends, and this is how you arrange them, Hangouts – where you can spend time with your contacts, Sparks – where you share and find new stuff.

There is a lot more like a Profile and a Stream and Photos. But also the privacy with a privacy policy and general Settings are par tof this important management board. There is also direct information on Backup, something that has never been talked about in the socil networking context so far and Google seems to be willing to offer solutions here as well as the shuttign down of acounts here called Downgrade.

Google has also changed the entry requirements and it seams that signing up to Google getting a specific gmail address is no longer necessary as it was with all the previous services. This will probably make a lot of people willing to give it a try, but then most people wil already have a gmail address from the previous services.

Very interesting will be the integration of location based and mobile sharing of which there is only little known at the moment. Will Google relaunch Latitude a fourth time or will Google+ have an integrated location service? We shall see.

It will be very interesting how these user centred setting management options will transform the service and how the platform is used. Currently it is run in privat beta, but the interest seems massive. People are keen to get into building a new social network. But then this was the same with Google Buzz and Google Wave, which both were later not that successful. However, it is likely that both of them together with latitude sort of feed into this new Google+.

The privacy and ethics discussion will be ongoing. And it will be for example interesting to what extend an API will be provided allowing to mine the social networking data at large which is generated through the use of the service. One question will be how this can be integrated with the stepped up privacy policy or whether, as Google has done so far, they restrict access to this part of the service.

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Google presents fir the currently running I/O conference in San Francisco a new Google Chrome Experiment. The developers print a data globe for visualisation purpose. It’s an in-house production and is a sort of simplified Google Earth in black and white showing colourful data spikes.

Its part of the series to demonstrate the power of the web browser. The war is on for quite a while between the companies and is currently fought the hardest on the browser front. Firefox has only just recently launched the new version and Microsoft is currently putting up paper adds across London trying to sell the detail capacity of the all new Explorer.

Image taken from readwriteweb / Screenshot of the WebGL Globe showing world population. Click the image for the interactive version

The chrome Experiments are already an established institution and contains a large selection of projects. Brilliant stuff like the interactive human body in 3D, the TimeLaps GigaPan or last years music video feature the Wilderness Downtown. Its an ongoing collection, so some new features will come up all the time.

The WebGL Globe uses web GL for the rendering all based on JavaScript. Doug Fritz of the Google Data Arts Team explains the challenges as: “The primary challenge of this project was figuring out how to draw several thousand 3D data spikes as quickly and smoothly as possible. To do this, we turned to Three.js, a JavaScript library for building lightweight 3D graphics. For each data point, we generate a cube with five faces – the bottom face, which touches the globe, is removed to improve performance. We then stretch the cube relative to the data value and position it based on latitude and longitude. Finally, we merge all of the cubes into a single geometry to make it more efficient to draw.”

Image taken from readwriteweb / Screenshot of the WebGL Globe showing Google Search results by language. Click the image for the interactive version

The second challenge was to create the interaction with the globe to enhance the experiment. since it is 3D users with the experience of Google Earth will want to drag and pan the globe. Using the mouse wheel there is also a zoom function so the data can be looked at locally. In this sense the interaction is quite nice however, the large spikes are difficult to grasp. The local level is really only for the smaller spikes.

The Google Arts Team has put online two data visualisations. One is showing the world population showing at three intervals 1990, 1995, 2000 accessible via some click links. The second visual is showing Google search volume by language.

Currently the tool seems only to offer point data and they have not yet announced a plan for additional features. It is not much more than an visualisation. However they are hoping it will be picked up by the community and have set up a Google code page, but not yet put the code for donned. Currently there seems to be only one custom visual, showing the bloggers mood around the world, based on the english speaking blogger community.

The language for the visualisation is not based on KML, but a sort of JSON interpretation. not sure how the transformation will work but apparently this should be simple. The package is now available for download on the projects Google Code page, including the two examples for reference. If you have a play with it and come up with some exciting stuff you can submit your project to Google HERE.

Image taken from alignedleft / Screenshot of the WebGL Globe showing Recently Blogged Feelings based on english speaking blogs.

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The internet has become this wast virtual pile of linked information snippets, data streams are poring out of every button, code is behind every pixel, it is everything and nothing. Finding something is what it takes, even if your not looking for something. Navigating and orientating is what we spend our time doing as we dash through cables globally.

A Google Search promisses wonders and this doesn’t need much promotion, since everybody is in the boat and captain G has got his hat on. It is not about the course we are sailing but about the fact somebody is taking care of things, somebody is watching, steering and comes up with a destination.

This is not far from were we have started from and things might just be around the corner. Why wait there is another term with an underline, another one, one more. And now we are lost, going nowhere, just clinging on to links and bold type titles. No worries since we are not going places we have time to go down this alleyway. Lets explore his topic or this wiki. This is what we know, its collaborative just strolling.

There is much to this getting lost and more it is related to la derive than Situationists ever had dreamed of, getting lost is practice 50 odd years on. Maybe its the naked internet that tells the story, or the joy of losing touch to reconnect on 140 characters a second this is short. I have to go I’m late got lost, but sure I’ll be back, an sailer at heart.

Not with promotion but with engagement the search giant bring the narrative as method and make your own. The link is HERE and instructions can be found on the Google Blog. It comes in seven steps with sound, great fun. An the new urbanTick trailer:

The ultimate ‘click urbanTick’ promotion video, more read urbanTick and ‘urbanTick on Time‘.

The Google Version was played during the Superbowl and inspired this simple editing tool to be made available, every little clip, home made, is an ad more.

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Augmented reality application have developed rapidly over the last year and have reached a number of platforms by now. Also there are now multiple providers to run AR services. This is a dramatic change from the early days were Layar was the only open plattform. Same thing with location based services. Google Latitude and Brightkite have been overtaken in the meantime by Foursquare and Gowalla as the leading applications. Actually one dosen’t even think of them as applications but communities.
Anyway to push their position Google now tries a new approach, integrating image recognition in to the AR environment. This could potentially improve the service in terms of accuracy. So far the technology relied on the location from the aGPS and the direction via the compass. However this is within a range of a couple of meters up to ten twenty meters. So in this sense you could have actually already walked past the trendy Sushi place you are desperately trying to find.

Image taken from AddSite / Scanning a contact card.

However, now with Google Goggles (its sounds a bit like Googoo Goggles, the Dr Seuss character) your mobile client will detect the place via its features, scanned from the camera image. It still links back to a massive database containing the background information but the identifiers were delivered by the camera. In this sense a true visual search.
It is still in beta and overall the technology is still in the beginnings. Unfortunately it runs on Androids only. Currently it can scan contact cards and translate them into a digital contact on your phone, recognise art work (I would like to see it recognise this Giacometti sculpture?), recognise landmarks (incase you are usure whether or not this is the Eiffel Tower you are looking at), detect logos (this could be helpful with the sushi place) or also book covers and presumably posters like theater plays or movies.
Search and related services are the core business of Google and this is the sort of innovation they are looking for. Already the term visual search makes a lasting impression, and linkes to all sorts of relations.
It sounds like a great application of technology and it will probably work very well at some point. However on the other hand it does start to rais the question of how dependent on the mobile client do you want to be? Do you really want to look at the world through the ridiculous small screen of your touch screen? Maybe to fins the sushi place?

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