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Tag "social network"

Books still carry an aura of mistic knowledge only accessible to whom dares to move beyond the cover and through the sea of pages with waves of sentences down to the discovery of words.
There is only little the outsider can understand from a distance, it remains a mystery.

The best way to share the reading experience is by swapping and passing on books. It is more than a gift if a read book is shared it is a way of sharing the experience of the story and getting to know what someone else already knows.

Image taken from the Guardian Book Swap Flickr Group Pool / Garrards_road_streatham_london

Over the last weekend the Guardian and the Observer started a book swap project to share exactly these experiences. Book readers are asked to set out books into the wild, leaving it for someone else to pick up and read. The guardian has set up a Flickr group to document the locations and the books contributed. As an identification the news paper gave a way stickers to mark the books, making them identifiable. It also carries some basic information and instructions to promote the project. If you missed the paper with the sticker that was part of the issue over the last weekend you can download the sticker HERE.

It is not a l scale project. The headline reads Guardian launches national Book Swap with 15,000-volume giveaway. they are making a good initial effort to push the experiment to the edge of self sustaining, hopefully. This is the tricky part, with social media and crowd sourced projects it is never clear how much is beard and what exactly is needed to hook the critical mass. The setting however, looks promising with Twitter tied in via the tag #guardianbookswap.

Image taken from the Guardian Book Swap Flickr Group Pool / Dog and Fox.

Using social media with the integration of Flickr and Flickr map to visualising location, let’s the project tap into a vast resource and existing networking channels. The sticker also carries a QR tag making directly linking the physical object to virtual content.

TheGuardian sets out a few basic rules accompanying the projects. Key especially in the London context is the security issue in point number 5.

1. You can leave as many books as you like, just make sure they are your own
2. Make sure your book is clean and in good condition
3. Don’t leave inappropriate material where it can be found by children
4. Avoid places your book could be damaged by the weather
5. Make sure it won’t be seen as a security risk
6. Don’t leave it in book shops or libraries
7. Don’t put yourself or the finder of the book at any risk

Roald Dahl's Biography, part of the Guardian Book Swap
Image taken from the Guardian Book Swap Flickr Group Pool / Roald Dahl’s Biography.

This project is interesting in a number of ways especially also in terms of the timing. There is currently a heather discussion ongoing with a strong focus on London mainly furled by the Evening Standard as to how literacy of the young generation can be improved. Apparently the Evening Standard has identified a alarming low literacy amongst young people in the UK, especially in London and is now spearheading an initiative to poor in money to improve literacy in general. The can be and. Already have been of conures accused of making a lot of publicity and marketing with these initiatives (There was an earlier one this year from the Evening Standard focusing on poverty) and probably this is the case. More interesting is the way it is done and what it means for literacy and reading in general. Is it worth setting up initiatives that actually work in parallel to the education system, placing the efforts to increase literacy in competition?

The Guardian initiative is not to be seen in this corporate efforts of a literacy discussion. It is set as a program celebrating the joy of reading and sharing the texts. And it ties in with the ongoing push towards location based sharing, socialising and networking. The project celebrates the book as a medium, an analogue medium, that can, and has over centuries already enabled this sort of networking. The key here is that the focus is on the experience of reading and the social aspect of reading. To archive this the spatial dimension of reading is here the medium and highlight the public space as a shared space beyond traffic. It can also be a public space of imagination, discussion and statements.

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The Royal Geographical Society Annual International Conference 2011 is under way this week in London. It opened yesterday under the topic The Geographical Imagination and is chaired by Stephen Daniels, University of Nottingham.
As every year it is going to be a very big event with a lot of paralel sessions. I will be presenting some aspects of the twitter New City Landscape research. The presentation is part of the session organised by Ladan Cockshut of Durham University under the title Getting lost on the way to Farmville“. Virtual, mobile and online spaces of interaction: Exploring the emerging geography and culture of new media technologies. The session starts at 09h00 and is located in the Skempton Building in Room 163 on the Imperial College campus.

The session has four presentations discussing the aspects of emerging social networking geographies. Two of the papers are based on gaming culture and the aspects of locality. One is presented by Kenneth Lim discussing Second Life and especially the SS Galaxy, a cruse ship. Lim’s interest for this part of Second Life stems from the view that a cruse ship is a self contained space providing all the essentials for living whilst on the move. There are of course very interesting connections to be drawn to the 1920 with Le Corbusier for example. He viewed the ocean liner at the ultimate city and admired its independence.

THe second gaming paper will be presented by Ladan Cockshut on Spatial and Interactive Dynamics in World of Warcraft. The third paper is by Amil Mohanan from UCL on the net neutrality debate discussing priotised datatransfer in the network by OFCOM and the possible emergence of a two-tiered market.

My paper is going o be the fourth contribution under the title New City Landscape – Mapping urban online spaces of interaction. The data for this paper is derived from the Twitter service, where users can send information as 140 character message. The platform allows to maintain a pool of followers (friends) with whom one shares the tweets (messages). Technically it is possible to collect every tweet sent via the open API (application programming interface) gaining access to millions of location based messages. From the collected data a new landscape based on density is generated. The features of this landscape of digital activity correspond directly with the physical location of their origin but at the same time represent with hills the peaks of locations from where a lot of messages are sent. The flanks and valleys stand for areas with lesser activity and vast plains and deserts of no tweets stretch across the townscapes. These New City Landscape maps (NCL) don’t represent any physical features, but the interaction with physical features on a temporal basis. The digital realm has become as much part of the urban environment as the physical features and with these tweetography maps they are made visible for the first time.

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The main buzz word of the 2011 discussion in urban and spatial research is networks. Networks start to appear everywhere and everything is linked in to most other things. This is however, in fact not new. The network discussion has started at least ten or fifteen years ago.

It is very fascinating how network are entering the repertoire of scientists and with the tools to construct analyse and draw them more and more data is analysed towards its network structure. Some of the platfomrs like Gephi or Cytoscape, but also the integration of network analysis capacity with existing software such a GeoTime in version 5.1 makes this emerging branch accessible to a wider research community. The basic elements of nodes as the actors and links as the activity are a pretty simple, but very powerful way of describing very complex structures.

Some three interesting examples of recent weeks shall be presented in the following. The examples chosen are very divers, but show how the term and the idea is unfolding in many disciplines leading to new discoveries of previous unknown aspect. This is not to dismiss anything known previously, but to add another puzzle piece to the picture from a ‘network’ perspective.

15m social network
Image taken from 15m.bifi.es / The figure represents the evolution of the network of Twitter users that exchange messages during the 10 days following the beginning (May 15, 2011) of camp in Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain. Each node in the network represents an individual, and the node size is proportional to the total number of messages he/she sent or received in the period analyzed. Two nodes are connected if they have exchanged at least one message. The colors encode the “age” of the node: the first active users are represented in yellow, while black color is used for the latecomers..

Social network analysis i probably the biggest and most obvious branch of network analysis. Since the concept of social connection is part of our everyday experience this is the area easies accessible for a general audience. With the data from digital social networks becoming available as for example the NCLn maps using Twitter show or also the Facebook global connection by Paul Buttler it is opening new possibilities for social sciences. The overwhelmingly massive amount of detail could potentially provide a different understanding of social mechanisms.

The project by he BIFI (Institute for Biocomputation and Physics of Complex Systems) is focusing on Twitter data collected between end of April and beginning of May 2011 during the youth movement 15m in Spain. The researchers have collected data over a period of three weeks as the activities are unfolding on Twitter across the country. The visualisation show how the information spreads across the digital social network, more and more groups joining in pushing the converation and the use of specific # hash tags as indicators. In total, 581.749 messages coming from 87.569 users were identified and used for the study.

Clip taken from 15m.bifi.es / video is a visual representation of the tweets exchanged between users involved in the 15M movement. All the information received/generated reflect the actual spreading dynamics in the period analysed.

Another obvious source of network information is to be found in science itself, mapping out the collaboration across the world. The institutions or the individual research groups can act as nodes and a collaboration is establishing a link between the nodes. Similar scientific citation are another established source of network data.

A lot of this work has been collected and presented in the MIT publications Atlas of Science by Katy Boerner. An online version of a research collaboration from 2005 to 2009 network is computed by Olivier H. Beauchesne at Science-Metrix, Inc. At wired explains “analysed the extracts of all of these articles to find where there was collaboration. So if a Cambridge University researcher published a paper with a colleague at the University of Arizona then that would create the pairing of Cambridge and Tuscon.”

global science collaborations
Image taken from flowingdata / Map showing global science collaborations. Click for full screen interactive version.

In a third example scientist have discovered network of trees. In which the threes are actively exchanging and scientists believe that this network provides an advantage to connected trees over unconnected tree of the same species in the same area. The soundfoundation explains: “Graduate student Kevin Beiler has found that all trees in dry interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) forests are interconnected, with the largest, oldest trees serving as hubs, much like the hub of a spoked wheel, where younger trees establish within the mycorrhizal network of the old trees.” The original presentation can be found here. It is pretty amazing that networks form such a fashion between plants previously thought of as static and dull in a spatial activity sense.

Tree network
Image taken from abject.ca / Map showing connected and unconnected trees in the study area.

The networks can extend to many other areas and the built environment being on of them. Just like the trees the buildings are al interconnected with a network of cables and pipes, services and goods, linking across the city and the country. In this context one of the obvious example is the transport network and how a bus service links to a tub service bringing you to your destination via a short walk some gates and Oyster card operated barriers. At CASA, Jon Reads is currently working with some Oyster Card data visualising and analysing public transport networks across London. There is definitely more to come in this area in the next few weeks and month.

London public transport network
Image taken from Simulacra Bog / Map showing Central London Detail of public transport network based on TfL segments.

Networks will be with us for the foreseeable future being stronger an stronger embedded in out everyday thinking of objects and actions. It is definitely linking into a growing awareness of connectivity very much in line with the current sustainability debate as well as the of similar age system thinking theories.

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I am at GeoCom 2011 today. It takes place at UCL here in London from today (20 – 22 of July). The conference focuses on geo computation with focus on complexity and modeling. The keynote today was given by Professor Peter Nijkamp from Vrije Universiteit, Netherlands as ‘Digital environments and ‘real world’ geographies‘. THe detailed program can be found HERE.

I will be presenting a poster on social networks based on Twitter data. The plot is using the data that was collected for the London NCL map during the period of one week. A detailed, interactive version of the graph can be fond as published in an earlier post.

London NCL Social Network

Graph by urbanTick using the GMap Image Cutter / London NCL Socia Network – Use the Google Maps style zoom function in the top left corner to zoom into the map and explore it in detail. Click HERE for a full screen view.

The network is based on activity on the Twitter platform. The graph shows connections based on @ tweets and RT tweets. The actual followers or friends are not taken into account. The activity is what can be read from the tweet content. So far we have not been looking into the tweet content beyond this networking information, but it could be an upcoming step.

Interesting is to see how information is passed on from users in RT’s. It will be possible to analyse the spreading of information spatially and how this travels the urban area as for example London in this case.

GeoCom2011 Poster
Image by urbanTick / GeoCom 2011 post ‘Location Based Social Network from Twitter’. for a large version see pdf HERE.

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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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Social networking is an internet phenomena and as such not limite to political borders. It spread rather quickly around the globe and is now as a range of maps recently has shown present on al continents as an important part of internet usage. THere are of course great variations between the locations as factors of actual internet accessibility.

GlobaWebIndex global social network usage
Image taken from globalwebindex / THe ranking of Social Network penetration by country. Not sure why Japan is so low. This depends on the definition of Social Networking presumably which is not provided.

Mashable describs the research: “The research, run by London-based consultancy Trendstream, has conducted six waves of surveys about global consumer adoption of the Internet and social media in 36 markets. It used data from its February 2011 surveys of between 750 and 2,000 online users in each market to define three behavior types: messagers, groupers and content sharers.”

GlobaWebIndex global social network usage
Image taken from globalwebindex / The global usage of Social networking. The grey circle show total number where the colours characterise the different group of use characteristics. Click for large image.

GlobalWeg Index explains the map as: “This shows the universe size of active social networkers for each market and then segments users into three behaviour types: Messagers, Groupers and Content Sharers. This behavioural data is based on a number of detailed questions we conduct into the way that consumers use social networks. Because social networking is now so big and touches every aspect of our internet experience, this detail is essential for the effective planning and implementation of marketing activity across social networks. This data reveals that users across the world are very different in how they utilise their network, with more focus on messaging and less on content sharing in established markets like the US and UK but more focus on content and groups in fast growing markets like Indonesia and China.”

These three different groups are shown on the map as with three different colours red for messages and mailers, blue for content sharers and green for group focused. The observed countries behave differently and from this study it seems that content sharing is more important in Asia, where messaging is more often used in the West. Indi seems to be the main marked for groups. Overall Asia and especially China is the largest market, with 155m users even now overtaking the US, with about 114m users. It is definitely the largest growing market.

Africa is as expected the smallest market compared to individual European or Asian countries. Some of the results are surprising such as the low number in Australia and rather high number in Poland. Also the visualisation is rather misleading with the results evenly distributed across the globe when it actually only is looking at certain countries. The map visually looks as if it covers everything. Stronger colouring in the actual locations or clearer association of the graphs with the country would probably help.
Nevertheless it provides a great overview and gives a feeling for the state of the social network usage globally.

Via Mashable

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How does the social network link location as people communicate? It would be very interesting to see how communication pattern link to location and context.

There is already quite some good stuff on this topic. Only recently John Reads defended successfully his PhD on a topic in this field. He was looking at telecommunication patterns in the South East and London region base on land line connections. He found some interesting patterns of linkages and hubs and was able to identify regions according to dominant trades. Also some landscape features showed up. For example the Thames was acting as a barrier even in the realm of phone call connections.

The TwitterNetworks of London, San Francisco or Munich generated from the NCL datasets are quite interesting where we can see how individuals are connected via interaction on te Twitter plattform using @-tweets and RT-tweets. The networks are built establishing the edges using these two direction indicators. Other networks based on twitter data have been focusing on institutions and text as with the ‘Why Mediate Art‘ project.

Image by urbanTick for NCLn / Circular graph showing the connection between the data sets collected for different urban areas in Switzerland. No connections between them exist, each one operates separate.

Recently the NCL network ha been looking at areas in Switzerland and mapped out the four large urban areas Zuerich, Geneva, Basel and Bern. Overall it is quite visible that Twitter is not as popular as it is in other parts of the world. It is still sort of seen as a time waister and something for nerds. This was aso reflected in the language settings with foreign languages dominating the fields. It seems quite popular with people to keep in touch with other parts of the world.

Switzerland is quite small and the linkages between the cities are well established. This is supported by a perfect public transport network and a wealth of political mechanisms to ensure equality and exchange. However socially of course the different languages to separate different communities. French is spoken in the West, German in central and North and Italian in the South of Switzerland. In the middle of sorts there is the dominating geographical landscape feature, the alps acting as barriers.

This complicated setting of barriers and ties makes Switzerland an interesting study object for social networks. It would be great to see how the different urban areas connect via individuals on social networking platforms.

Regarding our Twitter data we have two data sources. One is the individual records for each urban area over the period of one week, the other is a week long record of location based tweets sent across the whole of Switzerland including the south of Germany and the north of Italy with Milan.

Image by urbanTick for NCLn / Showing the social connections as found on Twitter within Switzerland. Data based on a location based Twitter record over the period of one week.
The alps in the centre act as barrier with only a few connections crossing them, either via a celebrity Twitter account, in this case Justin Biber and Jessica Alba or physical travel.

Looking at the first data set with individual records for each urban area, the networks separate out each city with no established connections between them. It was sort of expected, since the sample is small and the parameters are tight with only location based tweets.

Looking at the second dataset where the whole area was simultaneously recorded the big barriers show up clearly and there is a well established separation between North and South showing the alps as mountainous Twitter blockers. Interesting however, are especially the links across this barrier and there are some. Three links connect the norther part consisting of Geneva, Basel, Bern, Zuerich and southern Germany with the southern part consisting of Milan, Como and Turin. They represent different types.

The first type is the link via a common third party that is not necessarily in the area. This is most likely a very active and popular twitter acount. In this case there are three celebrities that establish the connections. They are Justin Biber, Jessica Alba and some guy Kenny Hamilton. These are the hubs that individual Twitter users from both sides of the mountains tweet at and establish a sort of second grade connection.

There is also the other type of first hand connections. this is established by an individua traveling around and tweeting both to connections in Milan, the southern part and users in Zuerich, the northern part. The fact that the individual has actually physically traveled between the two parts enforces these connections.

Image by urbanTick for NCLn / Switzerland with the locations of recorded tweets. This has been collected over a period of one week. The purple line shows the route travels by one individual users tweeting along the way and interacting with other user from both sides of the mountainous barrier.

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Getting the tweets out on time, actually at the right time, is very easy since the invention of Timely the on time tweet tool discussed earlier in ‘Social Networking on Time‘. Now the tool has been refreshed.

Timely allows to schedule a whole list of twitter messages and sends them out at the best time optimizing reader outreach. Based on the past 200 tweets a timeframe for best outreach is calculated and following tweets are sent out at exactly the best time.

The tool developed by the flowtown team just got better, with a major update released today. ‘Timely Gets An Activity Stream‘ with stats that are actually transparent and reliable. It is still the basic number, but there is now a drop down menue showing the actual retweets. Each tweet is listed chronologically just like in the Twitter stream. This streamlines the task of finding out who retweeted and in which context. No need to run a search through Twitter, Timely delivers it straight to the dashboard.

Image by urbanTick taken from Timely / urbanTick on Timely with the update listing function of retweets.

Further, it is possible to take it a step further and replay directly to each retweet. It offers basic function of an @tweet. This means thanks and ad-dons can be sent from the same platform. With this the information delivery and management goes in one and the from the ground up rebuilt Performance service gives every ambitious promoter peace of mind out of the box.

As Jason Keath from socialFresh points out: Timely has been open to the public since February, and already needs to expand the capability of their service to account for increased use. The service currently has over 15,000 total accounts and continues to grow.

Image by urbanTick taken from Timely / Timely now allows to directly replay to Twitter users who retweeted timed tweets served through Timely.

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The professional version of facebook has now als reached the 100 million user mark and is still growing. LinkedIN the social networking platform for the professional world has published at the beginning of March 2011 their growth in numbers to make a good impression. Founded in 2003 in Santa Monica, California by Reid Hoffman, Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant, the platform has grown to be worth almost $ 3 billion and makes a revenue of over $ 160 million, this is up over 200% from the previous year 2009 at just over $ 80 million.

It was a niche market back the and probably still is. But once your big things settle and a niche can be good business. The main asset linkedIN really has is the content. All these details of businesses, jobs and positions as well as the real people behind it. They say that 73 of the Forbes 100 best companies are using linkedIN hiring systems. This means that the platform hosts a massive amount of details and hors unimaginable stock of knowledge on the worlds markets. These days knowing about the business connections is worth more than actually making business.

Regarding the numbers, there is one more number of the financial sector that is probably interesting. LinkedIN earns about $160 million, but its expenses are almost $150 million. It’s actually expensive to know all these details. Presumably most of the cost goes into infrastructure.

In terms of the demographics, LinkedIN hosts over 58% male profiles and only about 42% female profiles. The main user group is between 25 and 50 years old, but the group of 18-25 year olds are also quite keen on the service with over 20%.

In terms of geographical distribution, as you would expect North America is LinkedIN homeland. with about 48% of all the users. The classic blindspots on the map are Africa, South America (except Brasil and Argentina), the Middle East and the Far East (except India). In terms of geographical gender distribution North America is doing better in terms of equality than every body else with 45% f and 55% m, where the Middle East with 23% f and 77% m is the most unbalanced market. However this is presumably not taking the numbers of users into account.

Through out the network the larger companies, over 1000 employees, are the most common. Also Smaller businesses tend to like the service, where medium sized businesses seem to be not that interested. As you would expect the leading branches are hightech 16% and finances 13% with agriculture covering the end with only about 0.4%. In terms of the job function academics are floating towards the top with around 10%, only the sales department is larger with 13%.

Interesting are aso the facts around the use and growth numbers. In terms of time of the day apparently there is a very high after lunch peak over all. During lunch and after lunch really seems to be the time web users find time for the sneaky break to check their social networking status, read a few blos and apply for a better job on inked in. The graph below also incudes the mobile user times and interestingly they mainly access the service after work and in the evening. However I imagine the graph to be slightly out of scale, the mobile users would be a lot smaller in numbers than the actual web users, but never mind. So if you really want this job you better apply before lunch.

linkedIN 2011
Image taken from mashable.com / The linkedIN network by numbers compiled by xxxxx on 2011-03-22.

Via zioigor

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The news that Egypt has gone of the internet last Thursday night, stunned the internet community. The news swooshed around quickly and questions were asked. How is this possible, is there a switch?

Over the past years we have learned to appreciate the net as a distributed network of hubs and servers with its own rules. Those being that the internet is not centrally managed and therefore very difficult to govern, even navigate. However, the net of nets is still connected via physical routers, as Andrew Blum in post over at the Atlantic points out.

The move by the Egyptian government was intended to help regain controle over the masses of people who protested for change on the streets of the major cities. The government seemed to believe that the internet and especially social media platforms such as Facebook a and Twitter are increasingly playing a role in the organisation of protests. Cutting Egypt off the web would leave the protesters unable to organise themselves.

Shortly after midnight, about 22h00 UTS, the Egyptian internet providers were asked to take down their routers. One after the other, over a timespan of about 20 minutes, went offline. As a result international IP addresses were unavailable from Egypt.

Image taken from renesys.com / The following plot shows the number of available networks for each of the significant providers, between 22:00 and 23:00 UTC last night (midnight to 1am Cairo time). Our new observation is that this was not an instantaneous event on the front end; each service provider approached the task of shutting down its part of the Egyptian Internet separately.
Telecom Egypt (AS8452), the national incumbent, starts the process at 22:12:43. Raya joins in a minute later, at 22:13:26. Link Egypt (AS24863) begins taking themselves down 4 minutes later, at 22:17:10.
Etisalat Misr (AS32992) goes two minutes later, at 22:19:02. Internet Egypt (AS5536) goes six minutes later, at 22:25:10.

The New York Times called it “Egypt, to an unprecedented extent, pulled itself off the grid.” and Jim Cowie, chief technology officer of Renesys said “In a fundamental sense, it’s as if you rewrote the map and they are no longer a country.”

The controle of internet content as well as accessibility is not new. Countries around the globe have developed different methods to do this. The most prominent examples are China or Iran, where twitter in 2009 played an important role in organising the political protests as well as distributing information after a disputed election. Earlier urbanTick coverage on mashups HERE.

As part of the New City Landscape (NCL) project we are collecting location based tweets in urban areas. For the last week we also recorded twitter activity in Cairo. And surprisingly twitter activity does not reflect the sudden drop off of international internet connection from Egypt. There is no dramatic reduction of tweets, however there is a continuous reduction of tweets reflected in the data. Over the past five days the location based twitter activity in Cairo has gone from about 250 to 300 messages per hour on Tuesday 27th and Friday 28th down to spikes of 50 on Monday the first of February.

Graph by urbanTick / Tweets collected using the TOM tool written by Steven Gray. The tool collects geolocated tweets originating within a 30km radius around the centre of Cairo. The graph shows number of tweets sent per hour.

This is not exactly as expected. There are different possible explanations for this. One of them could be that the internet is a difficult beast to tame and a few routers down don’t mean the end of this versatile construct. Via very slow channels it must in this case still be possible to send mainly mobile tweets, even though mobile networks were also reported partially down.

Then on the first of February new information circulated the news channels. Google has put live a new service to allow people in Egypt to tweets via a phone call. After calling a speciall number, +16504194196 , +390662207294, +97316199855, a message can be left that will be posted as a tweet including the hashtag #egypt. The tweet will contain a link to the recorded message. Messages are pushed through this speakToTweet account. Somehow a very political move “We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone there.”

Regarding out NCL collection this would not change anything since we are only looking at actual geolocated tweets send with Lat/Lon information included.

According to Renesys, Egypt has just this morning around 09h32 UTS returned to the internet after an absence of almost a week. How this will affect the tweeting activity we will see by tomorrow. It will be interesting to see weather this brings back up the numbers to a level of around 100 tweets per hour, we will see. New data and NCL maps are under way.

Image taken from renesys.com / All major Egyptian ISPs appear to have readvertised routes to their domestic customer networks in the global routing table, with the exception of Noor Group (AS20928). Recall that Noor was the exception (until Monday) to the Internet blackout, so they are as much an anomaly in restoration as they were in outage. (Update: Noor group back online with a full complement of prefixes as of 12:52pm Cairo time. Better late than never.)

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