Friday, 30 October 2009

The Facebook creeper

So somehow I got to this page about new developments at Facebook. I scan through what look initially like the usual tedious release notes, adding a thingy there, moving an icon there... and then I see about halfway down the Open Graph API:-

...will allow any page on the web to have all the features of a Facebook
Page – users will be able to become a Fan of the page, it will show up on that
user’s profile and in search results, and that page will be able to publish
stories to the stream of its fans.


Oh my god. So every page on the web can draw a Facebook fan base. They're burying Digg and bringing a peer recommendation engine to the whole web in one swoop. This is potentially huge: akin to Google Adwords, but based on your friends' opinions, rather than some clever algorthm related to the content you're reading or searching for.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

A broadside on British social etiquette

There's nothing like a bit of Jacobson social polemic. This article by Howard Jacobson gets right to the marrow of the matter of British social conduct.

I was chatting to a Trinidadian the other day, recently moved to Barbados, who was lamenting the violence in Trinidad and Jamaica. He had recently been caught running a stop sign here in Barbados, and found his initial irritation at the pettiness of Barbadian crime prevention give way to an acknowledgement that Bajans sweat the small social stuff because they can and always have. He described a chat with a Jamaican police commissioner where he asked why so many motorbike riders rode without helmets, when the law stated that they must wear them. The commissioner replied that, with 1500 murders a year to deal with in Kingston alone, bike helmet wearing was a pretty low priority.

Jacobson's article highlights the mad contrast of a nanny state that made it success on catering to the whims of its society finding itself unable to cope with the whimsical society it fostered. "Whatever happened to common decency?" is cliched, even by international cliche standards, but it seems to be an increasingly important question to ask in British society. Look to your little former colony: Barbados. Where decency is still common.

Countries' struggle for global identity

While this article in the Times by David Millibank has a generous dollop of political bravado (I could almost hear Land of Hope & Glory swelling as I read it!), it does describe a very interesting perspective: of countries trying to find their place in the globalised world.
Russians getting annoyed with Estonians, Iranians taking to the streets after dodgy elections, Somalian pirates taking on whatever seems to float past, be it yacht or frigate... As we evolve from full-on war to information (media) activism, it seems that both unconsciously and deliberately, most countries are trying to find their global niche. It's no longer enough to have a jostle with the neighbors. As a nation you have to join a pack or risk being picked off or marginalised by one of the other packs.
To me, 'Great' Britain is still a historical term, but that's not to demean it: Britain was the first to industrialise and to globalise. Followers may have perfected it, but there's still an advantage to having done it first, that Milliband does touch on: the relationships and connections that span the globe. In corporate terms, Britain created the market, and while there are now bigger players in that market, they all know who to turn to for guidance about the market.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Botnets: not just big, but all over the place

Botnet coverage in the press typically highlights the scale of some botnets: 50,000+ zombie PCs that bot-herders rent out to the criminal fraternity. This research highlights another intriguing and sinister aspect: botnets that may be used for corporate espionage.

It's like something out of a thriller, except thrillers about such geeky topics never seem to catch the imagination: either too dull for the layman, or too glamourising & simplistic for the geeks.

This is a medieval age of information: there is a vast difference between the haves and have-nots, with all the myths, mysticism, superstition, and intrigues of that era. So where (or what) is our Shakespeare?