All 15 entries tagged Web Stuff

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July 01, 2009

facebook groups part 2

Follow-up to and facebook freshers groups from Contemplating the Frame

So, I had an interesting exchange with the owner of one of the facebook groups relating to Warwick freshers.

Essentially they denied any connection to faststudentcash or to the 118 other groups with identical content. In the absence of further evidence to the contrary I will give them the benefit of the doubt. This is not to say that the other ‘official’ groups are in the same boat.

Note that in general this is not a call for Uni’s to seize control of facebook or prevent people from setting up groups relating to specific institutions. I have no issue with unofficial groups and am happy for students, present future or past, to do what they will with FB.

Where there seems to be something systematic though, this should be raising eyebrows.

Where this is useful is in reminding HEIs that they need to be active in their engagement with these channels, rather than passive. The creepy treehouse effect is a strong argument for non-involvement – do you want your dad at the school disco? However, a vacuum is there to be filled and so as Brad Ward argues, better to have a University sanctioned presence so that there is some clarity as to the official line rather than a free for all where no-one is clear who is official or not.

June 30, 2009 and facebook freshers groups

You may be aware of a scandal that hit the US last year – facebookgate – an investigation co-ordinated by the excellent Brad Ward.


looks like the UK is not immune to this either.

We became aware of a growing number of facebook groups claiming to be ‘official freshers groups’ for Warwick Uni. This seemed odd as the owners had nothing to do with us.

A bit of detective work lead us to find a few common threads – thanks go to John Waller for helping with this BTW!

Firstly – many of these groups repeated content lifted from the Leeds University Union freshers guide.

Secondly – many of these groups had a discussion post or similar advising students to register for

This site is an extremely dodgy one , recommending a series of schemes and grey area activities that students can use to generate cash. At it’s heart is a referral scheme that pays reps money for recruiting other students. A quick google search confirmed misgivings and revealed a comment on a Brian Kelly post that confirmed suspicions – comment 2

A bit of extra work revealed similar groups for Birmingham Uni, London Unis, Leeds, Bath, Manchester and no doubt there are many others.

My concern about this is not that anyone can create these – that’s the fun of Facebook – but that students are going to get caught out by a site that ends up causing them grief.

The other issue here is of course the degree to which students signing up to these groups are providing access to personal data that they may not wish to share with what is essentially a marketing programme.

Also noticed that in many instances the admins that are set up for these are xxxx uni or xxxx university – so in that sense the process is seeking to actually hide the fact of who is really setting these up.

A quick search for some common text reveals a small part of the problem

April 15, 2009

Ban Ki–moon – UN Secretary General and Spammer!

not really of course but what a great bit of spam:

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon


Attn: Sir/Madam,

Note! after series of meeting that lasted for three (3) Months with the secretary General to the UNITED NATIONS. You fall on the names submitted to receive a United Nations Compensation. This goes to all the people that have been scammed in any part of the world, the UNITED NATIONS have agreed to compensate them with the sum of US$120,000.00 (One Hundred And Twenty Thousand United States Dollars)This includes every foreign contractors that may have not received their contract sum, and people that have had an unfinished transaction or international businesses that failed due to Government problems etc.

Your name and e-mail was in the list submitted by our Monitoring Team of Economic and Financial Crime Commission observers (EFCC) and this is why we are contacting you, this have been agreed upon and have been signed. You are advised to contact Mr. David Avarlos, as he is our representative in United Kingdom, contact him immediately for your International Bank Draft of USD$120,000.00 (One Hundred And Twenty Thousand United States Dollars) This funds are in a Bank Draft for security purpose he will send it to you and you can clear it in any bank of your choice. Therefore, you should send him your full Name and telephone number/your correct mailing address where you want him to send the draft to.

Person to Contact Mr. David Avarlos

Phone No: +44 7035 9855 47

Good luck and kind regards,

Dr. Ban Ki Moon.

Secretary General (United Nations )
Making the world a better place

A better place indeed.

March 11, 2009

Interesting interfaces and I/O

At the last few conferences I’ve spoken at I’ve started with some little demo’s to demonstrate that the web as we know it is no longer a text based environment that you interact with using keyboard and mouse. Devices like the iPhone, Wii and others are shifting the way we interact with information and data – touch and gestures can be used to manipulate our digital environments.

As a demo I use the following Zefrank toy to show a simple example of using your laptop’s microphone to control a web app – – which is pretty cool. Certainly it get’s home the idea that thinking about the web as something driven by text and keyboard is an idea we need to move away from.

Two further thoughts though.

I recently downloaded Wikime to the iPhone which is a great little app that uses geo location to bring up wikipedia entries about places or things within up to 25km of your current location. A really great tool for interacting with the physical space around us and learning an awful lot about obscure places on the Moreton in Marsh to Paddingto rail line.

I thought that this was a great app for bringing together the physical and digital environments. It’s a similar shift to that which you see with apps like snap tell or QR codes that using the camera in your phone allow you to create interactions between the physical and digital.

This TED video then takes that to the extreme.

Cool and rather scary at the same time!

How does this change what we do? Not sure, but certainly a point of discussion.

February 25, 2008

Stats, stats and more stats – part 1

Ian Rowley and Kevin Johnson presented a range of stats and ‘facts’ about digital media at the Skills Session on the 19th. Following a request for some of the data – here is the first stat.

1. Pace of change:

- 40 years for 50m to own a radio
- 16 years for 50m to own a PC
- 5 years for 50m to be on the internet
- UK consumers spend an average of 50 hours a week on the phone, surfing the internet, watching TV or listening to the radio (Ofcom).

Whilst this may surprise some people I don’t know how much of an eye-opener this stat is. Does this just apply to the web? How many years did it take for 50 million vaccuum cleaners to be sold as opposed to 50m Dyson’s?

What is interesting though is the rate at which services are emerging and gaining mass audiences. YouTube took about 18 months to go from nothing to global phenomenon and serious player. Google has garnered a market position in a fraction of the time it took Microsoft to do so.

What we have not seen, at least in the last 3-4 years (don’t remind me of the last bubble burst, gah! The scars still run deep…), is the flip side of this – rapid growth can be matched by rapid collapse. Facebook skirted with this when they launched their first major attempt at monetising their membership with social ads. Indeed, Facebook has just had it’s first DROP in monthly usage. Whilst wailing and gnashing of teeth may be premature, it’s a useful reminder that today’s technological success story can easily be tomorrow’s 8-track.

However, not to undermine myself too much one can see that we have moved on from the situation 5 years ago where investment in online video/audio could be seen as a risky venture to one where the infrastructure positively demands its consideration. I guess the story in the stat above is not what the hardware is but the impact it has in terms of the availability of tools. After all – having a radio does not make you a radio producer. Having a PC with a broadband connection does.

I suppose its the difference between being sold a vaccuum cleaner and being sold a CAD package and all the bits you need to make a customised dust-kicking suction monster. With go faster stripes.

November 21, 2007

Why no hate in Web2.0?

I’ve been recording sessions from the What’s IT all about day today and was very interested in the presentation by Roo Reynolds on metaverses and 3d worlds. All good stuff but I was struck by the relationship diagram that he put up which was a fairly standard affair showing you >> your immediate friends >> your colleagues >> everybody else in concentric circles of connection.

In fact – here it is:

Relationship diagram

Slide is taken from Roo Reynolds’ presentation so be nice to it.

Now, i’ve seen this sort of slide many many times and the following thought struck me:

When talking about Web 2.0 and social media within enterprises presenters only ever map positive relationships – your friends, colleagues and customers.

Nobody ever (to my knowledge) maps negative relationships – enemies, people you don’t like, blockers and naysayers.

And that got me thinking – many advocates and evangelists for this technology map models where workplaces are essentially positive, collaborative and co-operative spaces and I would hazard a guess that many many organisations and teams are just not like that. So, therefore, what is the implication and impact of negative relationships on the dynamic of social networking tools in both the workplace and between organisations and customers.

For example, how does the fact that I don’t get on with X affect my relationship with Y, and does this situation create a tension when trying to achieve objective A and is this tension negated or amplified by the presence of social media tools.

I am trying to work out whether this positive view is something inherent in a certain sort of IT company / silicon valley start up and it’s just not the done thing to plan for bad relationships or whether there is a method of mapping these into the model that allows for the creative management of such tensions.

Anyway, the upshot is that I would be interested to know whether anyone has had a go at expanding this essentially positive view to accommodate the opposing experience.

Hopefully we will have Roo’s presentation up as a podcast shortly – it’s a good listen.

July 02, 2007

Amusing spam – OneDump

Writing about web page


so nobody likes spam but sometimes it can bring a smile to your face.

For example, this morning I found a launch notice for a new ‘Web 2.0’ service called OneDump.

Perhaps not the wisest choice of name there. I wonder if their service is shit?

BTW – as a slight aside I must mention the company who clean out the sewers around here who have perhaps the best strapline in the world ever – ‘We’re number one at number twos’.

January 22, 2007

A good look at the future of journalism

Writing about web page

Interesting set of papers from the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard looking at the changing nature of journalism in the digital age.

There is an awful lot to digest here, but some provocative thoughts to consider.

The pace of change is frightening – keep your eyes on the edges!

October 27, 2006

Second life and University communications

Writing about web page

There has been a lot written recently about Second Life, so I thought I’d dip in yesterday to take a look and see what ideas formed about how a university might make use of such an environment.

Firstly, I am going to split my comments into two groups – Communications and eLearning.


There are some interesting possibilities here – largely international in focus I would guess.

Create a virtual campus and host student recruitment sessions there – invite people to meet and talk with recruitment office avatars and current students
Second Life Orientation – international students who have been accepted could meet and get to know each other in Second Life before arriving on campus
Taster sessions – provide videos or audio of University life or teaching environment to give people a flavour of Warwick
Virtual Accommodation – build an accommodation block with examples of how student accommodation can look
Student Society stalls – give student societies a place to set out their wares
Alumni Relations – this could be a biggy. Provide a space where Warwick Alumni can meet and socialise. You could create a virtual Top Banana or some such. Photo gallery’s etc would be good too.


I am not so sure about this side of things. There are examples of education programmes going on in Second Life, but I am not sure whether they are that effective. I suspect that the QA system at Warwick may not yet be ready to accept an SL taught module.

However, it would be interesting to see whether the Centre for Lifelong Learning or WBS would be interested in piloting something.

Also, the space seems to be well suited to modelling – engineering could do some neat things, as could Comp Sci. Some of the more science focussed areas in SL are pretty awesome.

I am sure the eLearning team could provide some further insight into this.

What would be interesting would be to find out:

1. How many current Warwick students are in Second Life
2. Whether Alumni are using it
3. How you might go about building something.

My first idea was to just get some land and let Warwick people build things that reflect those elements that are important to them – but having thought about it, if we were to do this we should be a bit more focussed.

Any Warwick Bloggers with a sense of how to build stuff in SL are welcome to make themselves known…

July 14, 2006

Playing about with Digg

Writing about web page

For the last two day's I've been mucking about with adding links to Digg (and to Press Releases.

Why bother I don't hear you ask! Well, the story about Sleep deprivation and obesity had about 2000 hits yesterday – half of these came from and BoingBoing (which picked up the story from Digg).

I think that demonstrates the value of these services in terms of communications activity.

So, to make life a bit easier I've added a few links to the Press Release. Firstly a link that lets you submit a story to Digg. Secondly a link that lets you submit a story to Finally a counter that tells you how many people Dugg this story and a button that let's you register a vote too!

Unfortunately this last only seems to be working in Firefox, which is a pain, but I will endevour to resolve this for IE next week.

I have warned my colleagues in the office not to Digg their own stories as this would be evil. Hot coals have been prepared just in case!

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