Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Twitter, t*ts and Giggsles

Twitter has been foaming at the mouth over the injunctions granted to certain people over the past few weeks. Millions of Tweets mentioning the person accused and his alleged misdemeanor with a vapid, fame hungry nobody.

Can I just ask a question - have you all gone completely fucking mental?

I know that Twitter is a sounding board, and a reaction to the world around us, but seriously, if this level of reaction is generate to a footballer allegedly humping around, it really makes me lose my faith in the Twittersphere.

Let’s get this straight: the only interest that motivates this particular story is money and sex. Imogen Thomas and the footballer allegedly ‘did it’, Thomas is relying on it to make a bit of money, The Sun will make a lot by publishing it, and the footballer is spending a lot of money trying to stop it.

And a lot of us are siding with the paper has a great reputation for ethical reporting and ‘The Truth’.

Some lies, yesterday
You can start being high-minded, and tell me about the #trafigura, and how it marked a victory for the forces of good against evil. Great - well done. so after that victory, do we all really need to lower ourselves to the level where we are essentially grunting peasants trying to look through the curtains of an idiot?

Maybe we want a bit of retribution because, well, you know, he’s rich and successful, and he’s done something millions of people in this country (seen daily on Jeremy Kyle) have done, but probably in slightly nicer surroundings than a pizza-strewn couch. So you’re right. Screw privacy. He doesn’t deserve it. He should let us all into his house so we can watch him apologise whilst torching his face off with deodorant and a Zippy lighter. In front of his kids.

I think this footballer is a berk. I think Imogen Thomas is a berk. I’ll be polite and say I don’t read The Sun (understatement).

Credibility and true victories come when you keep your powder dry. If only Twitter could have been more vociferous in its celebration of the Stephen Lawrence retrial.

By not waiting for a bigger issue, Twitter has gone from a bubbling town hall debate, to a mass of giggling morons who just saw a flash of a garter at a strip club.

We’ve lost the moral high-ground.

Well done everybody.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Google Social Search: Thanks but no thanks...

Just been watching this social search video. Funnily enough, I didn’t have any misconceptions about Google Social Search until I started viewing it...

Let me get one thing straight: social is my job. And I love getting recommendations from my friends. And I hope they enjoy getting recommendations from me.

But I don’t like the idea of my search results being tailored to what the people I follow on Twitter recommend makes me feel a little bit, well, over-tailored to.

Thanks Google, but sometimes I’d rather make my own decisions based on the best option available, rather than the opinions Twitter, and other social networks have to offer.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Social Media Suckers: Bleeding You Dry

 Some rights reserved by outcast104

I'm currently reading a really good book. It's called Suckers, and it's by Ann Bilson. Set in the eighties, it follows a cynical, sociopathic stalker that finds out that the whole of London, and the object of her affections are being stalked by creatures of the night. Vampires. Set against the boom-and-bust of the fashion and publishing industries in the eighties, it's a satire on the societal mores of the time. The yuppies are willingly turned. They start to develop a taste for various forms of blood, baby blood being the most popular. They start to refer to normal people as 'nips' - merely a vessel keeping the plasma warm until the are needed for feasting.

The centre of this evil lies in the docklands of London, in a big black tower called MultiGlom.

It may sound a bit heavy handed to non-horror fans, or people who may prefer more nuanced, Salon-esque essays on greed and the noveau riche, along with their attitudes towards the hoi-polloi.

But visions of this book returned to me when I read an article today regarding a recent 'investors' tech party held on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The people at this event, which included a keynote speech from Richard Branson, were all silicon valley start-up kids. Tech geeks, angel investors, entrepreneurs (AKA the unemployed) rubbed shoulders and other body parts, toasting their own success.

Let me make a prediction here: 90 percent of these businesses will fail in the next year. Nobody, not even Martin Lewis, needs that many coupon sites in his life.

Perhaps the most shocking thing to me about this article is the amount of self-indulgent backslapping that seems to take place at these events.

"Take Travis Kalanick, a Summit-goer who founded Uber, an on-demand car service that uses mobile apps. In February, less than eight months after its launch, Uber rounded up nearly $12 million from investors at a $60 million valuation. Kalanick said Uber has more than 10 investors with a long line of suitors eager to snap up shares.

Aaron Batalion, co-founder of the daily deals site LivingSocial, also had something to toast at this year’s Summit. Four days before the conference, and less than four months after landing a $175 million investment, Living Social raised $400 million at a whopping $3 billion dollar valuation."

So that's a car rental company and a coupon/pyramid promotion company. So far, so not a big wow.

But these investors aren't stupid. JP Morgan are not stupid. We may baulk, justifiably, at the valuations of some of these platforms, but the truth, is, we are the 'nips' in this little vampiric tech circle-jerk.

All of these investors, all of these sites, all of these silicon valley hot-shots, are getting rich off of your personal data. Data that we are providing willingly to these sites, often just to try them out before deciding 'Oh, that's a bit shit', and never visiting again.

That's the worst thing.

And these are the people who will probably laugh their asses off at the Skype/Microsoft deal, just because hey, it's Microsoft, that company from the nineties that have faded into obscurity (i.e fallen out of fashion) because they don't make cool phones or have Lykke Li fronting an ad campaign for them.

But maybe they should be taking note.

Because if Skype, a genuinely transformative, long-haul company that has successfully spawned and maintained thousands of long-term relationships, and MSN Messenger, a still-relevant so-called relic from a bygone era, are combined, then you have a seriously useful platform. An enabler of relationships. Genuine interactions from you and me. And Microsoft have paid cash for a company with that potential, with is a fraction of the $67 billion that Facebook is currently valued at.

You could say that they've jumped in with a rash purchase that potentially backfire much worse than NewsCorp and Myspace, or AOL and Bebo.

Or you could say that they've put down cash to buy a solid business that could provide real benefit for them at the fraction of the market value of the biggest social hub on the planet.

That's what I think.

Who are the suckers now, kids? Not Microsoft in my books.